CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
Central African Republic
While an upsurge of crises continued to test the international order, amid growing mass displacement and the spread of transnational terrorism, the UK's divisive vote on 23 June in favour of leaving the European Union brought a new dimension to global political and economic uncertainty. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President & CEO of the International Crisis Group, said: “the Brexit crisis increases the risk of an inward-looking EU consumed with sorting out its own problems at a time when the world needs a Europe that is globally engaged".
The month saw security deteriorate in several countries in Africa. In South Sudan fighting escalated and the peace deal threatened to unravel, while Boko Haram increased deadly attacks in Niger. Insecurity also rose in Nigeria’s Niger Delta where militants fighting for a greater share of the region’s oil revenues stepped up attacks on oil and gas facilities, and communal and criminal violence spiked in the Central African Republic. In Turkey, a terrorist attack believed to be the work of Islamic State killed more than 40 people on 28 June. In a significant step forward, Colombia’s government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed agreements bringing the 52-year armed conflict closer to an end.
In South Sudan, fighting erupted in several places and conflict parties failed to make progress in implementing the peace deal signed in August 2015, instead appearing to prepare for a return to war. Forces allied to the former rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition led by Vice President Riek Machar, launched attacks mid-month to demand places in the planned army integration or disarmament processes. Crisis Group has called on the peace guarantors to act urgently, ahead of the African Union summit on 10-18 July, to salvage the agreement and prevent the country from returning to full-scale war.
Meanwhile, in West Africa, armed violence in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta worsened and threatened to spread, while Boko Haram insurgents in the north east continued to attack security forces and civilians. These crises, alongside the killing of about 59 people by Fulani herdsmen on 18-19 June, painted a picture of deepening insecurity across the country. As Crisis Group argued in a new report“The Challenge of Military Reform”, if the government is to defend its citizens it needs to take action including an overhaul of the defence sector, drastically improving leadership, oversight and administration.
Niger also suffered deadly attacks by Boko Haram in south-eastern Diffa region on the border with Nigeria. On 3 June insurgents overran Bosso town on Lake Chad, killing 26 soldiers. Similar attacks were reported on 9 and 16 June against an army-held town and barracks. In the Central African Republic, violence spiked in several parts of the country in the first major deterioration in security since a newly elected government took office in April. In the capital, Bangui, clashes between Muslims and Christians on 11 June left four dead, and fighting hit the north west.
In Turkey a gun and suicide bomb attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on 28 June killed 44 people and injured over 200. The government said it believed Islamic State (IS) was responsible, with official sources reporting that the three attackers were from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia’s North Caucasus. The attack comes as the government continued its clampdown against domestic IS networks and stepped up measures to prevent IS rocket attacks from Syria and seal off a 70km stretch of the border. Meanwhile clashes between the Kurdish PKK insurgency and Turkey’s security forces continued in the south east, with fighting increasingly moving from urban to rural areas.
On a positive note, the Colombian government and FARC signed agreements on the “end of conflict” on 23 June, providing the strongest assurance yet that the 52-year conflict is finally coming to a close. The agreements spell out how the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities will work, as well as how FARC guerillas will put down their arms and transition to civilian life. The parties also agreed on how to hold a referendum to approve the final peace deal. Crisis Group commended the work of both delegations and those involved in the negotiations, and applauded the inclusion of victims in the talks.
Secessionist group Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) late May reportedly raided offshore Chevron gas platform, threatened foreign workers. FLEC Commander Sem Medo 22 June claimed group killed fourteen soldiers late May. Clashes 25-26 June left seven soldiers, two FLEC dead in Miconje area. Death of FLEC historic leader Nzita Tiago 3 June prompted uncertainty over future leadership: son Emmanuel Nzita and FLEC VP Alexandre Tati both claimed presidency; Emmanuel Nzita 21 June called on all FLEC factions to unite.
Govt 1 June created 92-member committee to draft new constitution comprising experts, politicians, civil society representatives, religious and customary chiefs and security forces. Military court 6 June said it would not re-issue arrest warrant against Côte d’Ivoire’s national assembly speaker Guillaume Soro for involvement in Sep 2015 coup and that govt has asked Côte d’Ivoire to prosecute him. Signalling it would take firmer stance against Koglweogo vigilante groups, govt 13 June reiterated that carrying weapons without authorisation, collecting unofficial fines and taxes and corporal punishment are crimes that will be sanctioned. Thousands of Koglweogo 22 June held general assembly, rejected laws; clashes 25 June between Koglweogo and opposed youths in Ouagadougou outskirts injured five. Election of mayors stoked inter- and intra-party tensions, clashes 18-28 June killed at least three across country. Govt 30 June said ten people suspected of involvement in Jan Ouagadougou and March Grand-Bassam terrorist attacks arrested; six still wanted.
Govt continued to repress opposition; talks to end political crisis postponed from 21 June to 5 July. Lead facilitator former Tanzanian President Mkapa 10 June in Brussels promised opposition figures he would invite main exiled opposition alliance National Council for the Respect of the Arusha Agreement, Restoration of the Rule of Law (CNARED) as single entity to second round of talks. Govt repeated it would not negotiate with CNARED. Security forces mid-June deployed in centre-west Mugamba and Burambi areas to disarm rebels, made multiple arrests. Police 3 June arrested eleven students in Muramvya, east of Bujumbura, for defacing Nkurunziza’s image in textbooks, triggering protests. Police and intelligence services violently suppressed protests, killing one taxi driver and injuring two students. Provincial governors early June prevented Agathon Rwasa, opposition National Forces of Liberation (FNL) leader, from meeting his supporters in Gitega, Cibitoke and Karusi provinces. UN 3 June said it would not renew mandate of Burundian police in Central African Republic peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) when tour ends Sept 2016, citing allegations of human rights abuses. U.S. Treasury 2 June said it put sanctions on two govt officials and one Republican Forces of Burundi (FOREBU) rebel. Govt 20 June threatened to withdraw from ICC Rome Statute.
Boko Haram (BH) slightly increased rate of attacks in Far North killing 43 mostly civilians, including twenty fishermen in Tomboun Ali, Hile Alifa district, and launching other attacks in Limani town, Kolofata district and Mora district. Suicide bomber killed eleven in Djakana near Limani 29 June. BH abducted 40 people in Darak district 6-8 June. Cameroonian troops in counter-BH Multinational Joint Task Force 25 June launched operation on Lake Chad’s Cameroonian and Nigerian islands.
Violence spiked in Bangui and NW and central regions, continued in SE. In Bangui, killing of Muslim motorcycle taxi driver led to clashes in PK5 neighbourhood between Muslims and Christians 11 June, four killed; ex-Seleka rebels 19 June took six police captive for five days. Anti-balaka 24 June killed UN peacekeeper in Bangui. Anti-balaka fighters and ex-Seleka-backed herders clashed multiple times from 10 June in NW Ngaoundaye; ex-Seleka 15-16 June took control of town. Unidentified gunmen killed local Médecins Sans Frontières driver in ambush 17 June between Sibut and Grimari, NE of Bangui. Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels kidnapped 29 people in separate raids 12 and 14 June in and near Kadjema in SE. Uganda 10 June said it would withdraw troops from AU Regional Task Force pursuing LRA in SE by end of 2016 citing group’s reduced strength and insufficient international support. France 22 June said it had reduced troops in CAR from 650 to 350. Human Rights Watch 7 June said soldiers from Republic of Congo serving as peacekeepers in African Union mission (MISCA) and UN mission (MINUSCA) killed at least eighteen people Dec 2013-June 2015. National assembly 10 June adopted govt’s General Policy Programme. International Criminal Court 21 June sentenced Congolese former rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba to eighteen years in prison for his militia’s abuses in CAR 2002-2003.
President Déby 4 June went to Ngouboua on Lake Chad island to galvanise troops and call for people’s support against Boko Haram (BH). Following BH attack on Bosso town, south Niger 3 June, Nigerien President Issoufou 7 June asked Déby for military support against BH. Chadian troops in Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) mid-late June reportedly took part in operations against BH in Lake Chad region.
Govt 1 June appointed ten-member committee to draft new constitution; possible changes could clarify presidential eligibility criteria and create VP position. President Ouattara 7 June said constitutional referendum to be held Sept-Oct followed by Nov-Dec legislative elections; 23 opposition parties 30 June rejected proposed process for amending constitution. Updating of voter rolls began 25 June. International Criminal Court trial of former President Gbagbo and youth leader Charles Blé Goudé resumed 6 June; former First Lady Simone Gbagbo on trial in Abidjan for crimes against humanity pleaded not guilty, denounced trial as political.
Political manoeuvring over electoral crisis continued as ethnic tensions rose in east. Ruling party Sec Gen 4 June raised possibility of referendum on constitution to extend President Kabila’s rule. Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of opposition Union of Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), brought together representatives of most opposition parties and civil society near Brussels 8-9 June: participants rejected dialogue as foreseen by Kabila but called for UN, EU, AU, International Organisation of La Francophonie and U.S. to support AU-appointed facilitator Edem Kodjo, established “Rassemblement” follow-up mechanism. Tshisekedi met Kodjo in Brussels 17 June, expressed support for dialogue in spirit of UNSC Resolution 2277. In east, army and UN operations against Rwandan Hutu rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) stoked tensions between Hutu and other ethnic groups at Buleusa, eastern Walikale; non-Hutu groups suspected Hutu of complicity with FDLR. UN Force Intervention Brigade 16 June reportedly killed seven Mai Mai militants who tried to block food distribution to displaced people in Buleusa camp. U.S. imposed sanctions on Kinshasa police chief Céléstin Kanyama 23 June for “violence against civilians”.
Security forces 12 June clashed with Ethiopian soldiers on disputed border near Tserona, both sides blamed other for instigating violence, claimed other sustained heavy casualties; govt 21 June accused Ethiopia of preparing larger military strike.
Security forces 12 June clashed with Eritrean soldiers on disputed border near Tserona (see Eritrea). At least 40 civilians reportedly killed 5 June in clashes between Ethiopia’s Liyu Police and herders in Gashamo contested area on Ethiopia-Somalia border, prompting at least one protest against Ethiopian police in Somalia’s Galgadud region (see Somalia).
President Jammeh 3 June reportedly accused Mandinka ethnic group, country’s largest, of leading April-May political protests, called group “enemies and foreigners” and threatened to “kill them one by one”. UN special adviser on genocide 10 June condemned remarks.
Tensions persisted within ruling Rally of the Guinean People (RPG): President Condé 11 June banned from RPG former senior presidential advisor Ousmane Kaba and former Communications Minister Alhousseyni Makanera Kaké after they criticised his late May comments accusing ethnic Malinké politicians of trying to take control of RPG by appealing to ethnic solidarity.
PM Djá, appointed 26 May by President Vaz, formed govt 2 June; gave twelve of 31 positions to opposition Party for Social Renewal (PRS) and remainder to dissidents of former ruling party, African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), small allied New Democracy Party and Vaz associates. National assembly convened 14 June after two months’ inactivity, closed third session without resolving status of fifteen PAIGC dissident MPs. Former PAIGC ministers 9 June left main govt building which they had occupied since 26 May in protest against Djá’s appointment. PAIGC and former head of state broadcasting service appealed to Supreme Court against Djá’s appointment 3 and 9 June respectively; court’s decision awaited. ECOWAS 4 June prolonged mandate of its military mission (ECOMIB) until June 2017. IMF 3 June suspended budgetary assistance on grounds that previous govt’s bailout of two commercial banks would benefit wealthy at expense of poverty reduction.
Police 6 June fired on opposition supporters protesting in western Nyanza region against Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for alleged pro-govt bias, killing at least two. Al-Shabaab fighters 20 June ambushed police escorting bus in NE Mandera county, killing five police. Al-Shabaab militants clashed with army in coastal Lamu county 29 June, four militants killed, one soldier injured. Police same day shot dead one suspected terrorist, arrested three at house in Malindi, coastal Kilifi county. Four-day clashes late June between two communities living along Kisumu-Nandi county border killed four, displaced more than 2,000.
Following NGO Global Witness’s mid-May allegations of bribery against govt officials and British company Sable Mining, grand jury 8 June indicted Sable Mining CEO in connection with allegations; CEO denied charges. After thirteen years UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIL) 30 June handed over responsibility for security to govt.
Grenade attack 26 June in stadium in Antananarivo during Independence Day celebrations killed two and injured 84; President Rajaonarimampianina blamed attack on “political divergences”. Opposition senator René Lylison, under arrest warrant for threats to state security, early-June denied charges.
Implementation of June 2015 peace agreement remained slow, as armed group and ethnic violence continued. Govt, main rebel alliance Coalition of Azawad Movements (CMA) and pro-unity armed groups (Platform) 14 June agreed new calendar to appoint interim authorities and restore public services in five northern regions. Prospect of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) program triggered violence between armed groups: two Platform groups, Groupe d’autodéfense touareg imrad et alliés (GATIA) and Ganda Izo, 11 June clashed after latter tried to create pre-DDR cantonment site near Douentza, Gourma region, which GATIA considered under its control; armed group leaders met in Bamako to ease tensions, GATIA released prisoners. Suspected jihadists continued attacks on national and international forces: unidentified gunmen 12 June clashed with govt forces in N Timbuktu region, wounding two soldiers; 19 June attacked National Guard outpost near Gao, wounding soldier. Communal violence continued in NE: alleged Imouchagh (Tuareg faction) fighters 12 June attacked CMA/Doosak position in Menaka region, three Imouchagh allegedly killed and two Doosak wounded. In centre two armed groups, Alliance nationale pour la sauvegarde de l’identité peule et la restauration de la justice (ANSIPRJ) and Mouvement pour la défense de la patrie (MDP), announced formation 18 and 25 June respectively, MDP joined pro-unity Platform coalition. UNSC 29 June extended MINUSMA mandate to 30 June 2017 and raised peacekeeper ceiling by some 2,500.
After longstanding rejection President Nyusi 18 June accepted foreign mediation of peace talks with armed opposition Renamo. Renamo attacks on civilians and infrastructure increased including 4 June attack on two lorries in Barue district, Manica province. Ruling Frelimo MPs 22 June called on attorney general to bring charges against Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama for group’s actions.
Boko Haram (BH) significantly increased attacks in SE Diffa region and regional counter-BH Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) reportedly launched major offensive. BH insurgents 3 June attacked Bosso town, killing 26 soldiers, looting weapons and ammunition and forcing army to leave temporarily; insurgents 9 June temporarily forced army out of Kabelewa, looted town; insurgents 16 June reportedly attacked military barracks at Ghafam, Diffa region, killed seven military personnel and same day attacked refugee camp near Diffa. President Issoufou 7 June asked Chadian President Déby for military support. Army general 21 June said MNJTF including Chadian and Nigerian troops had launched major offensive to eliminate BH along Niger-Nigeria border.
Insecurity in Niger Delta worsened. Armed group Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) vandalised Nigerian and foreign-run oil and gas facilities, including three in Bayelsa, two in Delta and one in Akwa Ibom states. Six other previously unknown groups also threatened attacks. State-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation 9 June said attacks had cut electricity production by over 1,500 megawatts, about half usual national output. Govt 6 June offered to negotiate with armed groups but military continued operations against them; NDA 8 June refused talks, other groups agreed but set conditions. Suspected Niger Delta vandals attacked communities in Ikorodu area, Lagos state 23-24 June, killing at least 22 people, raising fears Delta violence may be spreading to SW zone. Unidentified gunmen 22 June kidnapped five foreigners and two Nigerians in Cross River state and killed their driver; freed captives 26 June. Nigerian military and multinational force continued operations against Boko Haram in NE; insurgents attacked police station and military post in Kanama, Yobe state 7 June, killing seven; attacked army positions in Pulka, Borno state 12 June, six killed as soldiers repelled them; insurgents killed four civilians and abducted four women in Kutuva, Borno state 14 June; killed 24 civilians in Kuda-Kaya, Adamawa state 16 June. Aid agencies reported critical humanitarian situation in parts of NE, called for urgent response. Suspected Fulani herdsmen killed about 59 people in Logo area of Benue state 18-19 June.
Security forces 14 June arrested General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, opposition candidate in March 2016 presidential election; court 16 June charged him with violating state security and illegally possessing arms.
Al-Shabaab stepped up attacks against civilians and security forces: in Mogadishu militants 1-2 June stormed hotel, killed at least eighteen people including two MPs; suspected Al-Shabaab 5 June shot dead female journalist; militants 7 June shot dead two National Intelligence and Security Agency officers; militants 25 June detonated suicide car bomb then stormed hotel, at least fifteen people killed including minister and militants; suspected Al-Shabaab launched mortar attacks in several districts, no reported casualties. Al-Shabaab claimed 21 June killing of Middle Shabelle security chief in Jowhar. In Halgan, central Hiraan region, Al-Shabaab 9 June overran base of Ethiopian AMISOM contingent, forcing soldiers to retreat to bases in Wabha and Adan Yebal. Roadside bomb 30 June killed at least eighteen people in Lafoole, Lower Shabelle. Somali Special Forces 1 June killed senior Al-Shabaab commander Mohamed Dulyadeyn in Lower Juba and U.S. drone strike 3 June killed Al-Shabaab military instructor Ma’alim Adan Hassan in Lower Shabelle. National Leaders’ Forum 25 June agreed electoral timetable: legislative elections in Aug, presidential in Sept. At least 40 civilians reportedly killed 5 June in clashes between Ethiopian Liyu Police and herders in Gashamo contested border district, prompted protest against Liyu Police in Galgadud region (see Ethiopia). Militia loyal to former Bari regional commissioner clashed with Puntland security forces 22 June, no reported casualties.
Tensions rose between Somaliland and Puntland over disputed Sool region: clashes between Dhulbahante clan militias left twenty people dead in Dharkeyn Genyo, Sool region 4 June.
Inter- and intra-party violence and intimidation increased in run-up to 3 Aug local elections, affecting 80 locales in eight provinces. Ruling African National Congress (ANC)’s 20 June selection of Thoko Didiza, non-local former minister, as its mayoral candidate for Tshwane metro area outside Pretoria instead of current mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa sparked three days of violent protests, at least five people killed and many injured; residents said ANC leadership imposed mayoral candidate.
No progress on peace deal implementation, fighting rose and govt and rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) prepared for return to war. Forces allied to SPLA-IO 11 June attacked Kajo Keji, former Central Equatoria State and 15 June attacked Raja, former Western Bahr el Ghazal State to demonstrate need for cantonment sites and unification into army or disarmament program in those areas. Independent armed group primarily comprising ethnic Fertit 25 June attacked and briefly captured Wau, second largest city; 10,000 civilians under UN protection and over 100,000 displaced. Govt delegation and Sudan govt 6 June in Khartoum committed to withdraw troops from Safe Demilitarised Border Zone along shared border and stop supporting rebel groups hostile to each other (see Sudan).
Govt and S Sudan delegation in Khartoum 6 June committed to withdraw troops from Safe Demilitarised Border Zone (SDBZ) along shared border and stop supporting rebel groups hostile to each other (see South Sudan); govt 26 June said it had withdrawn troops from SDBZ. Darfuri rebel groups Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) met with Darfur mediation in Doha late May; govt 6 June rejected proposal of JEM and SLM-MM to renegotiate Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. Govt 17 June announced four-month unilateral ceasefire in S Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Sudan Call, coalition of armed and political opposition groups, following talks with Western envoys in Addis Ababa, 19 June proposed supplementary document to Roadmap Agreement that includes additional confidence-building measures; govt 21 June rejected proposal.
Security forces 7-10 June arrested 30 soldiers, including Entebbe air base commander, and opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) MP for allegedly planning coup; army court charged 22 soldiers and MP with treason 28 June. Unidentified gunmen 12 June attacked police station in northern Gulu killing two; govt dismissed rumours that rebels were responsible for raid and 27 May attack on Local Defence Unit in Opit, Gulu district. Army 10 June said it would withdraw most troops from AU Regional Task Force deployed in Central African Republic to counter rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), citing group’s reduced strength and insufficient international support.
Factional tensions in ruling ZANU-PF party persisted: in speech to ZANU-PF central committee President Mugabe 9 June described war veterans as dissidents for allegedly threatening war if VP Emmerson Mnangagwa failed to succeed him.
Parliament 13 June voted against President Ghani’s 5 March decree on electoral reform, sent to parliament late April, which had enabled release of international aid for elections to be held Oct; vote makes it highly unlikely elections will be held in 2016. Main opponent to decree Farah province MP Abdul Sabur Khedmat argued Ghani had no intention of holding elections and sent decree to Wolesi Jirga intending to deceive nation and block reform. Sirajuddin Haqqani, deputy to new Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada, 15 June said Taliban only open to peace talks if international community agreed negotiations would conform to Sharia. Defence ministry 7 June said Afghan air force strike in Nangarhar province killed five Islamic State (IS) loyalists; U.S. drone strike in Paktika province 9 June killed alleged Haqqani Network facilitator. Military 14 June reported operation targeting Taliban hideouts in Jawzjan province killed fifteen insurgents; defence ministry 18 June said army released nine Taliban hostages in Helmand province. Police commander 3 June claimed Taliban hideouts installed 500m from Baghlan-Kunduz Highway, requiring large-scale operation to secure it. Taliban 30 June staged twin bomb attack on police convoy outside Kabul 30 June; reports of death toll vary from 27 to at least 40. Ghazni province officials 8 June said Taliban executed eleven security personnel who they had kidnapped 4 June. Explosion in Nangahar province mosque 10 June killed four civilians, wounded 50. Special representative on reform and good governance 4 June reported thousands of acres grabbed across country and major embezzlement in fuel contracts, but govt lacked political authority to tackle corruption. Report by NGO Global Witness 6 June said lapis lazuli mines driving corruption and extremism, earning Taliban and other armed groups up to $20mn annually.
Controversial counter-terrorism efforts exacerbated tensions between ruling Awami League and opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) as target killings continued. Hindu priest killed 7 June by attackers in Jhenidah Sadar sub-district; Hindu temple volunteer hacked to death 10 June in Babna Sadar sub-district. Islamic State (IS) reportedly claimed responsibility for both attacks. In first apparent instance of extremist retaliation against police, wife of senior police official hacked to death in Chittagong 5 June. Police 7 June killed three suspected Jamaat Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants in Dhaka, Rajshahi and Brahmanbaria. Govt 10 June launched weeklong crackdown on jihadist groups, reportedly arresting over 11,000 people; civil society activists claimed mass extortion by police during operation, while opposition accused govt of using counter-militancy efforts as pretext to target political opponents, reporting that majority of detainees were BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) activists. PM Sheikh Hasina insisted “BNP-Jamaat clique” had replaced previous mass street agitation with “secret killings” to destabilise country. Police 6 June pressed new charges against BNP leader Khaleda Zia and 38 other BNP figures in arson cases from Feb 2015 violent govt-opposition clashes. International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) 6 June upheld Nov 2014 conviction and sentencing of senior JeI member Mir Quasem Ali for atrocities committed during 1971 war of independence. High Court 7 June granted bail to Daily Star editor, Mahfuz Anam in ten out of 82 sedition and defamation charges brought against him after he admitted to publishing uncorroborated reports on PM Sheikh Hasina’s alleged corruption. Six-phase local council polls concluded 4 June, with a record of over 120 people killed in election-related violence before and during polls; most deaths reportedly linked to intra-Awami League clashes.
Govt 2 June released white paper on “Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang” defending crackdown against Islamic militants, and asserting no religious discrimination in province; however local officials reported they routinely blocked Uighurs’ right to fast during Ramadan.
Japanese FM 2 June lodged protest with Chinese embassy over China’s construction of new drilling towers in East China Sea (ECS) near median line between countries’ coastlines; said construction indicated China’s continued development of gas fields in violation of 2008 agreement on joint development in ECS. Chinese frigate 9 June sailed within contiguous zone around disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands; Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) issued warning and monitored vessel, Tokyo lodged diplomatic protest. MSDF 15 June reported it had spotted Chinese naval intelligence ship in Japanese territorial waters west of Kuchinoerabu Island in Kagoshima prefecture; Japanese foreign ministry same day expressed concern to Chinese embassy over China’s general naval activity. Chinese defence ministry said exercising right to innocent passage stipulated in UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. U.S. said Chinese fighter jet 7 June conducted “unsafe” intercept of U.S. aircraft conducting routine patrol in international airspace over ECS, also said Chinese jet was never within more than 100 feet of U.S. aircraft; China blamed frequent U.S. reconnaissance of Chinese coastal areas, asserted its right to take defensive moves and urged U.S. to cease reconnaissance activity.
Several killed in encounters between Maoist insurgents and security forces throughout month: at least two police commandos killed in anti-Maoists operations 19 June in Bihar and 17 June in Jarkhand; at least four Naxalites reportedly killed in late June police operations in Maharashtra.
Indian National Investigation Agency Director General Sharad Kumar 2 June reported that inquiry into Jan 2016 Pathankot air base attacks had produced strong evidence implicating Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar and his brother Rauf; found no evidence to suggest direct involvement of Pakistani govt or intelligence agencies. Violent clashes between militants and Indian armed forces continued: suspected militants 25 June killed eight police, injured twenty in attack on convoy outside Srinagar; Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) claimed responsibility. At least fifteen soldiers and rebels reportedly killed in five other clashes during month. Heavy gunfire broke out 20 June between security forces and militants following reported arrest of top LeT commander Abu Ukasha in Kupwara district. At least 30 people reportedly injured in clashes with police during protests in Srinagar against Indian govt’s new industrial policy.
Activists accused police of detaining over 1000 protesters in W Papua 15-17 June following peaceful demonstrations calling for independence referendum and investigations into alleged human rights abuses. Police denied arrests, but admitted to “localising” protesters to restrict their movement. Police 9 June arrested three suspected Islamic State (IS)-linked militants, believed to be planning attacks in Jakarta during Eid-al-Fitr.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 6 June reported DPRK’s Yongbyon nuclear facility appeared to be reactivated, with satellite imagery indicating resumption of activities related to five-megawatt reactor, expansion of enrichment facilities, activities related to reprocessing. IAEA chief said Pyongyang’s unwillingness to comply with March UNSC resolution “deeply regrettable”, urged implementation of relevant IAEA and UNSC resolutions; qualified that IAEA only observing through satellite imagery. U.S. State Dept official 7 June suggested Pyongyang repeating process by which it obtained plutonium for previous nuclear tests. DPRK 22 June launched two mid-range ballistic missiles from eastern coast; first launch failed, ROK media reported second launch likely most effective to date. UNSC 23 June condemned launches. U.S. Treasury Dept 1 June designated DPRK “primary” money launderer, said it would seek secondary sanctions cutting off banks or companies conducting transactions with Pyongyang from U.S. financial system; sanctions expected to primarily affect Chinese banks. Beijing said it opposed unilateral sanctions, 14 June released list of goods banned for export to DPRK. EU Council 6 June decided to impose additional restrictive measures against DPRK. ROK 13 June said DPRK hacked over 140,000 computers at 160 firms and govt agencies, planted code laying groundwork for major cyber-attack. Chinese President Xi 1 June received DPRK Worker’s Party Vice Chairman Ri Su-yong in first meeting with senior DPRK official since 2013. Ri same day said DPRK would continue to build nuclear force. DPRK convened fourth session of thirteenth Supreme People’s Assembly 29 June.
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) 31 May established “Preparatory Committee for Union Peace Conference (Panglong-21)”, slated to meet late-Aug, and two subcommittees for engaging with Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signatory armed groups and non-signatories. Also established committee for formation of “National Reconciliation and Peace Centre” (NRPC). Dr Tin Myo Win confirmed as govt’s lead peace negotiator. NCA-mandated Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) also re-formed 28 May, with ASSK as chair. Issues to be discussed at peace conference reduced from five thematic areas previously set out to two: political and security. Sub-committee for non-signatories met in Thailand 3 June with United Nationalities Federal Council umbrella group of non-signatory armed groups. Govt formally invited groups to attend preparatory meeting in Yangon in July, together with NCA-signatory armed groups and UPDJC, to prepare for Panglong-21. Armed conflict continued N Shan state between Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and govt forces; between TNLA and Shan State Army-South; and between govt forces and Shan State Army-North. Minor clashes also continued, including on 5 June, between Arakan Army and govt forces in Rakhine state. Distribution of “national verification cards” to Muslims without citizenship cards started 7 June in three townships in Rakhine state; cardholders will be able to apply for citizenship verification. Followed 31 May formation of Central Committee on Implementation of Peace, Stability and Development of Rakhine state, also chaired by ASSK.
Govt 16 June approved roadmap to hold local elections by Dec 2016, provincial assembly elections by April-May 2017, and federal parliamentary elections by Dec 2017; opposition criticised plan for implementing new constitution without addressing concerns regarding new provincial boundaries; ruling UML party warned elections would be held even without dissenting Madhesi parties’ buy-in. Coalition of Madhesi parties presented seven preconditions responding to 12 June govt invitation for dialogue including formation of judicial commission to investigate protest-related deaths in Tarai plains. Ruling coalition member Maoist Center held unsuccessful discussions with UML and opposition Nepali Congress on forming national unity govt. Naya Shakti Nepal – new party espousing good governance, economic progress, and inclusiveness led by Maoist ideologue and former PM Baburam Bhattarai – launched 12 June. Netra Bikram Chand’s breakaway CPN (Maoist) undertook large extortion drives and torched telecommunications stations across nine western and eastern districts 11 June, mimicking insurgency-era tactic of attacking key infrastructure. Two transitional justice bodies on truth, reconciliation and disappearances extended conflict-era case registration deadlines until mid-July as some victims reportedly unaware of filing process; over 47,000 total cases registered thus far including fifteen against Col. Kumar Lama who is awaiting trial in the UK on charges of torture during the conflict.
Army chief Raheel Sharif 2 June said Zarb-e-Azb anti-militant operation in N Waziristan successfully entering final phases; another military official said operation’s completion will be announced before end of Sharif’s tenure in Nov. Attacks and clashes between alleged Baloch insurgents and security forces continued. Bomb blast in Balochistan province’s Quetta 24 June killed at least three, injured 32. Principal of University of Balochistan’s law college killed 8 June in drive-by shooting in Quetta. Paramilitary Rangers 7 June blocked streets around senior Muttahid Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar’s home in Karachi; fellow MQM leader described incident as attempt to compel MQM leadership to switch loyalties from MQM to other movements. Karachi police 15 June registered case against MQM media head for spreading “propaganda” against Rangers. Son of Sindh High Court chief justice kidnapped 20 June in Karachi. Security officials reportedly expressed concern that al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) branch reestablishing itself in Karachi. President Manmoon Hussain 8 June signed constitutional amendment allowing appointment of non-judicial officials to Election Commission (ECP), providing opportunity for more representative ECP leadership. U.S. State Dept 2 June confirmed sale of F-16s to Pakistan no longer viable after offer, which was approved in Feb, expired 24 May.
Police opened fire on student demonstration in Port Moresby 8 June, leaving dozens wounded; protesters were calling for PM O’Neill to resign over corruption allegations. Court 9 June granted injunction barring students from protesting on campus; students 23 June clashed with security forces, burnt cars and trucks. Govt 28 June established inquiry into violence, imposed curfew on two university campuses.
Govt peace negotiator Silvestre Bello met mid-June with exiled National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) communist leaders in Oslo, 15 June signed agreement to formally resume peace talks in July to end communist insurgency; previous round stalled 2013 when President Aquino halted negotiations and refused to release political prisoners. President-elect Duterte 17 June met with leaders of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF); reiterated his campaign promise to pass Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). MILF Vice Chair Ghadzali Jaafar said MILF and MNLF working to come up with unified stance on Bangsamoro govt. Army 4 June reported it captured Islamic State (IS)-allied Maute militant group training camp in Lanao del Sur province; four soldiers and dozens of militants reported killed. Army 4 June said it would suspend operations in south during Ramadan out of respect, but remain on standby in Lanao del Sur. Army 17 June said some 5,000 soldiers deployed in Sulu province to track Abu Sayyaf group; at least three Abu Sayyaf killed, ten Abu Sayyaf and sixteen soldiers injured in clash with military in Patikul town 21 June. Four Malaysian hostages held by Abu Sayyaf since April 2016 freed 8 June, Filipina woman held since Sept 2015 freed 24 June; group 13 June executed Canadian hostage held since Sept 2015. Amid growing regional security challenges, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines 20 June agreed to increase air and sea patrols in common maritime areas to combat hijackings, kidnappings and robbery. One police killed, five police and two civilians injured in grenade attack by unidentified assailants 20 June in Sarangani province; Sarangani among strongholds of communist New People’s Army (NPA). Police 18-19 June killed eleven suspected drug dealers, bringing number of drug suspects killed since Duterte was elected 9 May to over 40.
Indonesian navy 17 June fired on Chinese fishing vessels in Indonesian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around Natuna Islands, detained one boat and seven crew. Two Chinese Coast Guard vessels arrived to protect and rescue fishermen and vessels. China said incident took place in traditional Chinese fishing grounds, accused Indonesian navy of damaging one vessel and wounding fisherman, and of violating international law; lodged protest with Jakarta. Chinese media 1 June reported Beijing preparing to declare air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over SCS; U.S. Sec State Kerry 6 June warned such a step would be “provocative and destabilizing”; followed 27 May report of Chinese surveillance drone on disputed Woody Island. Addressing regional security forum U.S. Sec Defence 4 June outlined vision of “principled security network” in SCS. Following meeting between Chinese and ASEAN officials 14 June ASEAN FMs issued joint communiqué expressing “serious concerns” on development in SCS, but retracted hours later to make “urgent amendments”, possibly after China lobbied Cambodia and Laos to withdraw support for statement.
UN Human Rights Chief’s 29 June report to UNHRC noted some important steps by govt to implement 2015 HRC resolution but called for faster progress on range of concerns, including releasing Tamil detainees, returning military-held land, asserting control over military and intelligence establishment and dismantling structures enabling abuses; reiterated importance of international involvement in accountability mechanism. Amid waning public confidence, govt took some positive steps on accountability, rule of law and transitional justice: Parliament 24 June unanimously approved long-awaited Right to Information Act; Inspector General of Police 18 June ordered disciplinary action against head of police Special Task Force (STF) for public threatening of journalists 17 June; president 17 June issued new directives to police and armed forces on arrest and detention of persons on terrorism related charges; task force for consultations on transitional justice mechanisms mid-June began public hearings, met military officials, religious and other civil society representatives. Opposition and activists criticised govt for lack of public consultation prior to 27 May publication of Office on Missing Persons draft law, presented to parliament 22 June. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leaders 13 June criticised govt decision not to include foreign judges in promised special court. Defence Secretary 13 June announced much-criticised Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) will be replaced with national security act, prevention of organised crime act and intelligence act. Responding to pressure from civil society and cabinet members, PM agreed Central Bank governor Arjuna Mahendran not be reappointed until conclusion of parliamentary investigations into corruption charges; no interim governor named as expected 30 June following disagreement between PM and president.
PM and head of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Prayuth Chan-ocha 2 June said if Constitutional Court rules against a provision of recently enacted Referendum Act, constitutional referendum scheduled for 7 Aug would be postponed. Provision in question prohibits aggressive or rude language that disrupts referendum with penalty up to ten years’ jail; human rights groups argue that restrictions on speech deemed “inconsistent with the truth” are unconstitutionally vague. Election Commission (EC) commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn 17 June threatened prosecution of online critics who post “rude, false and provocative” statements critical of the draft constitution. Constitutional Court 29 June ruled Referendum Act accords with interim constitution. Red Shirt United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) early June announced it would establish “anti-fraud centres” across country to monitor referendum. NCPO mid-month decided centres violated prohibition on public gatherings for political activities; soldiers shut down some 30 anti-fraud centres around country. UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan called for the UN and other international bodies to monitor referendum. Insurgent attacks in Deep South included: in Narathiwat, two rangers killed in ambush in Rangae district 31 May, four insurgents and a ranger killed in clashes in Chanae district 1 June, Malay-Muslim village head and assistant killed in drive-by shooting in Cho Airong district 6 June; in Pattani, five people injured in shooting in Khok Pho district 5 June; bombs exploded Panare district and Mayo district same day, no casualties; two soldiers and five civilians injured by motorcycle bomb in Nong Chik district 9 June; two more soldiers wounded in bomb attack in same district 20 June; car bomb in Narathiwat 26 June injured two people.
Germany’s lower house of parliament 2 June passed resolution recognising mass Ottoman killings of Armenians during WWI as genocide; Pope Francis 24 June denounced Armenian genocide during official visit to Yerevan, calling for Armenia-Turkey reconciliation and regional peace effort. During visit by Armenian military delegation to Iran mid-June, Tehran pledged to develop closer defence ties; Iranian and Armenian FMs 5 June signed MoU on visa regime liberalisation. Parliament approved decision to join Russian air-defence system.
Prison chief 15 June said 28 May amnesty act will cover release of 10,000 prisoners; 200 released same day. Armed Forces late June engaged in training involving 25,000 military personnel; Navy conducted exercises in Caspian Sea.
President Lukashenka 16 June announced successful test of new missile system as part of military rearmament program; follows announcement in May by Russia and Belarus of decision to develop military response to U.S. missile shield deployed in Eastern Europe. Leader of opposition United Civic Party (AHP) Anatol Lyabedzka and two associates taken into custody 2 June on charges of illegally distributing printed materials.
State Statistical Agency 30 June released sensitive results of 2013 census despite objections over methodology from Republika Srpska (RS), which disputes validity. Census shows 20% decline in population since 1991 to 3.5mn; 50.11% Bosniak (up from 43.5% in 1991, 88% of whom live in Federation entity), 30.78% Serb (down from 31.2% in 1991, 92% living in RS), 15.43% Croat (down from 17.4% in 1991, 91% living in Federation). European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) 9 June ruled that Bosnia discriminated against Bosniak living in RS entity who was not allowed to stand for presidency under constitution; third ECHR ruling to find that Bosnian constitution is discriminatory. Bosniak residents of Srebrenica in RS said police exercise in town late month was intended as demonstration of violence to intimidate Bosniak returnees.
New round of peace talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders held 8 June following late-May row between Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Akıncı and cancellation of planned 27 May talks. Two sides 20 June reportedly reached agreement on issue of power sharing.
EU 1 June decided to postpone decision on granting visa-free travel to Georgian citizens, despite fact that country has fulfilled requirements for visa liberalisation, prompting expressions of disappointment within Georgia.
Calm following nationwide protests in late April-May against sale of land to foreigners broken with armed attack by alleged Islamic State supporters in Aktobe in NW 5 June and subsequent manhunt; three soldiers, five civilians, eighteen attackers killed. Authorities reported security forces 26 June arrested group of suspects, one of whom blew himself up. Interior ministry claimed land protests funded by coupplotting officials from south with links to Russia – not by West as alleged earlier. Kazakhstan elected to UNSC for two years 28 June.
Parliament 17 June approved extension of mandate of EU rule-of-law mission EULEX for two years, three days after it expired; also modified mandate to monitoring and advising role.
Dispute between govt and country’s largest gold mine Kumtor and Canadian-based operator Centerra Gold escalated. Govt early June launched probe against mine manager, seeking to fine operator for environmental damage. Interior minister 13 June suggested Kumtor was financing newly-created People’s Parliament movement to destabilise govt; followed arrest same day of Dastan Sarygulov, former head of stateowned company which holds shares in Centerra and now associated with People’s Parliament movement. President Atambayev 14 June described Kumtor as “biggest scam” in country. Turkish authorities reported one of three suspected Islamic State-affiliated suicide bombers responsible for 28 June Istanbul airport bombing was Kyrgyz.
Court 27 June sentenced former PM Filat, charged Oct 2015 with accepting bribes in $1bn bank fraud case, to nine years’ prison after finding him guilty of power abuse in office and corruption. Transdniester conflict talks resumed 2 June under official 5+2 format involving the two sides plus Russia, Ukraine, U.S., EU, OSCE, first talks since 2014 after three previous meetings under this format were cancelled. OSCE advanced “shared notion” for breakaway territory’s status that respects Moldova’s territorial integrity. Parliament of self-proclaimed Transdniester Moldovan republic 22 June adopted draft law on “legal, institutional and political framework” for negotiations with Chisinau.
As Azerbaijan and Armenia both reported continued violations of ceasefire by other side along line of contact in N-K, Azerbaijani President Aliyev 7 June warned April ceasefire not stable, status quo not acceptable. Baku authorities 16 June stated they viewed visit of Nagorno-Karabakh de facto president to Brussels as provocation. Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders meeting in St Petersburg 20 June adopted trilateral statement.
President Ivanov 6 June revoked his controversial pardons issued in April for 56 politicians (mostly from ruling party) and aides, protecting them from criminal prosecution in illegal wiretapping scandal; pardons had sparked widespread protests, exacerbating political crisis, and drawn condemnation from EU and U.S. EU and U.S.-brokered crisis talks saw rival political parties agree on new process to check electoral role; discussions on timing of early election and format of new interim govt, and on how to reform electoral role and media, continued. So-called “Colourful Revolution” anti-govt protests continued calling for constitutional court (CC) to rule to protect status of Special Prosecution set up in Sept 2015 to investigate wiretapping scandal and set up special court to try cases; tens of thousands protested in capital 20 June, after CC missed deadline imposed by protesters to make ruling.
Result of 23 June UK referendum voting to leave the EU prompted concerns over potential for destabilisation of status quo in place since 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended decades-long Troubles. Overall vote in Northern Ireland favoured staying part of EU, however loyalist DUP supported Leave vote. Sinn Fein 24 June called for vote on Irish unity, prompting concerns in some quarters for potential to inflame Loyalist tensions. Referendum result also raised uncertainties over future status of open border with Republic of Ireland and fear of return to physical border with checkpoints. Developments come ahead of annual Orange Order parades 12 July.
Commission for Human Rights and Civil Society 3 June met Ingushetia republic head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov who defended late May killings by National Antiterrorism Committee, which he said targeted Islamic State (IS) militants; followed questions from human rights activists over official account of killings. Officials reported police officer shot dead by unknown attackers in Ashaga-Sta village, Dagestan 3 June. Four security officers and six militants killed during two separate counter-terrorism operations in Dagestan 17 June; dead include militant commander wanted since 2009 and who pledged allegiance to IS. Members of Dagestan’s Muslim Spiritual Board (DUMD) 21 June set up group within all-Russia extra-parliamentary party People Against Corruption (NPK) aiming to win representation in both Russian State Duma and Dagestan’s Parliament in Sept elections for Duma and Dagestan parliament. Proposal to name bridge in St Petersburg after late Chechen President Akhmat Kadyrov succeeded despite several hundred protesting and online petition against it gathering 70,000 signatures. Turkish authorities reported one of three IS-affiliated suicide bombers responsible for 30 June Istanbul airport bombing was from North Caucasus.
At 9 June closed session of annual Human Rights Dialogue with EU, EU delegation expressed concern over fate of Tajikistan’s political prisoners, persecution of their relatives, torture and pressure on civil society/media. FM Aslov 13 June said Tajikistan is one of only a few countries to successfully combat extremism. Trials of Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) members continued: deputy heads Saidumar Husaini and Muhammad Hayit sentenced to life imprisonment 2 June, guilty of conspiring to seize power.
President Berdymukhammedov met with visiting Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu 8 June in Ashgabat to discuss regional security risks and increase military cooperation. Independent Turkmen media 8 June reported 27 conscripts died on Turkmen-Afghan border early May in unclear circumstances.
Suicide bomb and gun attack at Istanbul airport 28 June saw 44 people killed and some 240 injured; authorities believe the three attackers, one Russian (North Caucasus), one Kyrgyz and one Uzbek, were Islamic State (IS) militants. Violence continued in SE provinces with fighting increasingly moving from urban to rural areas; some 36 security forces, thirteen civilians and 33 PKK militants killed in clashes throughout month. Attacks include suicide car bomber 7 June targeting police vehicle in Vezneciler in central Istanbul, six police officers and six civilians killed, PKK offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) 12 June claimed responsibility. PM Binali Yıldırım 21 June declared end to military operations in urban areas in SE, said govt would begin reconstruction campaign for damaged districts; operations in rural areas continuing at high rate. Constitutional court 3 June rejected violation appeals by pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (HDP) and some opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) members over 20 May constitutional amendment stripping 152 MPs of their immunities from prosecution; President Erdoğan 7 June signed bill lifting MPs immunity, allowing for prosecution of 799 cases. Authorities 21 June arrested one human rights activist and two journalists on charges of “terror propaganda” amid intensified crackdown against opposition and pro-Kurdish journalists and activists. Clampdown against IS networks continued: Niğde Criminal Court 16 June gave three IS militants aggravated life sentences for March 2014 Ulukışla attack in Niğde province, first known IS attack on Turkish soil. Media 16 June reported govt will install new air defence system at Elbeyli border crossing, Kilis province, to prevent IS rocket attacks at CrisisWatch N°155 International Crisis Group, 1 July 2016 Page 19 border, in continuing efforts to seal off 70km border with Syria. Turkey and EU 2 June began technical talks on overcoming last obstacles to visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens; PM Yıldırım 14 June said amendments on anti-terrorism law –one of five outstanding criteria for visa-liberalisation deal – were out of question, citing terrorist threat. European Commission next day published second progress report on implementation of EU-Turkey deal emphasising five criteria still need to be fulfilled in order for visa liberalisation to take place. Erdoğan and Russian President Putin spoke for first time 29 June since Nov 2015 downing of Russian warplane by Turkish fighter jet.