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.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo
In June, Iran-U.S. tensions continued to climb, raising the risk of a military conflagration. Yemen’s Huthi forces, seen as Iran-backed, increased the pace of strikes in Saudi Arabia, which in turn stepped up bombing in Yemen. Attacks on U.S. assets in Iraq multiplied, and protests erupted in the south. High-level assassinations rocked Ethiopia, and Sudan’s security forces reportedly killed over 120 protesters. Major ethnic violence hit north east DR Congo and Mali’s centre and could escalate in both places. In Cameroon, violence raged in Anglophone areas and Boko Haram upped attacks. Political tensions rose in Guinea, Malawi and Tunisia, and Algeria could enter a constitutional void in July, possibly inflaming protests and repression. In both Honduras and Haiti, anti-government protests turned deadly. In the Caucasus, killings in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone pushed up tensions, and in Georgia anti-Russian sentiment fuelled major protests. Widespread repression marred Kazakhstan’s elections. In a positive step, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Trump agreed to restart talks on denuclearisation.
In his introduction to this month's edition of CrisisWatch, Crisis Group's conflict tracker, our President Robert Malley urges the U.S. and Iran to step back from a dangerous conflagration and calls for the immediate release of our colleague Michael Kovrig from arbitrary detention in China.
Tensions between Iran and its allies on one hand and the U.S. and its allies on the other rose to alarming levels in June, raising the risk of more intense political and military confrontation in July. The U.S. blamed explosions on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Iran, which denied responsibility. Fanning the fire, Iran downed a U.S. drone on 20 June off the Iranian coast, which nearly led to U.S. strikes on Iranian soil. Huthi forces in Yemen, whom Riyadh considers Iranian proxies, stepped up the pace of cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia. Riyadh in turn intensified bombing of Huthi areas in Yemen, especially in the capital Sanaa, risking a further aggravation in July. Meanwhile, in Iraq, unclaimed attacks on U.S. assets multiplied and protests erupted in the south, with demonstrators demanding more jobs and better services. To avoid a military conflagration, Iran and the U.S. can still and should walk back from the brink.
In the Horn of Africa, high-level murders in Ethiopia exposed a dangerous power struggle. Gunmen shot and killed five officials, including the leader of Amhara state, the second-largest federal region, and the military chief-of-staff, triggering a wave of arrests targeting ethnic Amhara nationalists. The ruling coalition and government should take urgent steps to restore calm, including a clear commitment by Prime Minister Abiy to try to rein in discord within the ruling alliance. Security forces in Sudan unleashed attacks on protesters early June reportedly killing over 120 and the military leadership continued to resist demands to hand over power to civilians. To prevent widespread conflict, world leaders, including Sudan’s Arab backers, must press the military to resume talks toward a civilian-led transitional administration.
In north east DR Congo, longstanding enmity between ethnic Hema and Lendu in Ituri province erupted in attacks that have left at least 170 dead and, with tensions still high, the toll could climb in coming weeks. In Cameroon, Boko Haram upped attacks on security forces and civilians in the Far North and violence intensified in the west as government forces continued efforts to crush the Anglophone separatist insurgency. In Mali’s troubled centre, ethnic Fulanis carried out large-scale attacks – suggesting a new level of organisation and ambition – leaving at least 73 dead and raising the risk of reprisals in July.
Ahead of Guinea’s 2020 presidential polls, tensions continued to rise between those supporting and those opposing a third term for President Condé and security forces violently suppressed an opposition march. In Malawi, thousands demonstrated to denounce alleged vote-rigging in May’s election, which President Mutharika narrowly won. With neither side backing down, the confrontation could escalate in July.
Meanwhile, in North Africa, tensions mounted in Tunisia between the ruling coalition and opposition when parliamentarians voted to change the eligibility criteria for presidential candidates. If signed into law, the amendments would bar three opposition front-runners from taking part in polls due later this year. President Essebsi’s “severe health crisis” also sparked speculations about a possible power vacuum. Algeria could enter a constitutional void in early July when interim President Bensalah’s mandate ends, possibly leading to more intense protests and repression.
In Latin America, tensions increased in Honduras, where protesters initially demonstrating against planned health and education reforms clashed with police, leading to several deaths and the army deploying across the country to maintain order. Deadly protests also rocked Haiti, with demonstrators demanding President Moïse resign over corruption allegations.
Tensions rose in Georgia and between Georgia and Russia when a Russian legislator visiting parliament committed what was seen as an insult to Georgia on live TV, sparking mass protests. The killing of four soldiers in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone strained relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In Kazakhstan, widespread repression of protesters and arrests of journalists marred presidential elections.
Finally, on a positive note, U.S. President Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un held a meeting in the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea. Although both agreed to restart denuclearisation talks, all parties will now need to work toward realistic goals based on mutual concessions to build confidence and generate momentum.
Security forces continued to disperse anti-govt protests violently reportedly killing four. Opposition continued to organise street protests after authorities barred opposition parties from taking part in 28 April parliamentary election. In Tchaorou in centre, following reported clashes between protesters and security forces 9 June, supporters of opposition leader former President Boni Yayi, under house arrest since April, 14 June set up barricades and set fire to police station; security forces used live ammunition to disperse protesters, killing at least two. In Savè in centre, security forces 15 June reportedly killed two people in attempt to dislodge protesters from barricades. Following opposition outcry, govt 17 June sent mediators to Tchaorou and Savè to engage local leaders. President Talon 20 June received local dignitaries from affected towns, denied attempts to harm his predecessor Boni Yayi, and pledged to form committee to ease tensions. Following 8 June reports of Boni Yayi’s deteriorating health and opposition’s calls for clemency, authorities 22 June ended his house arrest, allowing him to leave country for treatment.
Violence involving security forces, self-defence groups and jihadist groups Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) continued to extract heavy toll on civilians especially in Sahel, North, Centre-North and East regions. Notably, in Soum province, Sahel region, suspected jihadists 10 June attacked Arbinda village killing nineteen civilians and 19 June attacked Belehede village, reportedly killing seventeen civilians. Jihadists 22 June attacked Sagho and Toékodogo villages, Centre-North region, killing fifteen. Unidentified assailants killed Guibga village chief, Centre-North, night of 25-26 June. Gendarmerie patrol ambushed near Arbinda 24 June, two gendarmes killed. Govt 17 June announced creation of commission on national security to strengthen security forces, amid growing accusations that they have committed human rights abuses. Govt’s early June proposal to introduce law permitting authorities to imprison people for up to ten years for sharing information on military operations sparked concern among civil society that law could curb free expression and criminalise work of journalists and advocacy groups. Govt early June welcomed ruling by France’s highest court approving extradition of François Compaoré, brother of ousted former President Blaise Compaoré; François Compaoré faces prosecution for murder of journalist in 1998; decree by French govt needed for extradition to go ahead.
Govt continued to repress dissent especially members of opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL). Authorities 2-3 June arrested two CNL members and local leader in Busoni, Kirundo province. Imbonerakure youth wing of ruling party CNDD-FDD 2 June attacked seven CNL members in Mubimbi, Bujumbura province; 9 June assaulted three CNL members in Ntega, Kirundo province; 16 June assaulted two CNL members and local leader in Murwi, Cibitoke province. After fire burnt down CNL headquarters in Nyabiraba, Bujumbura Rural province 15 June, CNL leader Agathon Rwasa held authorities responsible, but court 19 June sentenced nine CNL members to two years in prison for “complicity in arson”. Govt 3 June banned one of few remaining independent NGOs PARCEM for tarnishing country’s image and threatening peace and stability. Group of local NGOs linked to CNDD-FDD 8 June demonstrated in capital Bujumbura against French media for giving voice to dissidents. Burundi refused to take part in meeting of security sector officials from Great Lakes region 5-6 June in DR Congo (DRC) capital Kinshasa on joint efforts to combat armed groups in eastern DRC. DRC President Tshisekedi visited President Nkurunziza 14 June and both committed to stabilising eastern DRC. UN Security Council same day held discussions on Burundi; Burundi and several other countries called for country’s removal from council’s agenda.
Boko Haram (BH) upped assaults on security forces and civilians in Far North, violence intensified in Anglophone areas in west, and authorities continued to repress opposition. In Far North, in deadliest attack since 2016, BH militants of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction attacked Darak outpost of Multinational Joint Task Force on Lake Chad night of 9-10 June, fighting left at least sixteen Cameroonian soldiers and eight civilians dead, military claimed to have killed 64 militants. BH launched smaller attacks 9-22 June mostly in Logon-et-Chari division, but also Mayo-Tsanaga and Mayo-Sava, killing nine civilians and at least one soldier. Govt forces continued efforts to crush Anglophone separatist insurgency in Northwest and Southwest regions. In Northwest, dozens of ethnic Fulani, reportedly encouraged by security forces, attacked residents of Wum town 3 June leaving at least one dead. Following 9 June clashes between soldiers and separatists in Esu village (Northwest) which left one soldier dead, security forces reportedly attacked Esu killing twelve civilians. Near Bamenda, capital of Northwest region, suspected separatists 18 June ambushed army convoy killing one soldier; same day suspected separatists briefly kidnapped 40 people. In Southwest, suspected separatists 15 June detonated roadside bomb killing four police in Otu village. Suspected separatists kidnapped archbishop of Bamenda 24 June and main opposition party leader John Fru Ndi 28 June, releasing both after one day. Separatist group Ambazonia Interim Govt 22 June said it was holding informal talks with govt. Switzerland 27 June said conflict parties had tasked it with facilitating talks. Authorities cracked down on opposition protests in Yaoundé, Douala and other towns 1 June, arresting about 350; about 100 released 3 June. Security forces 8 June prevented further protests, arresting about 23. In Geneva, where President Biya was staying, some 250 Cameroonians 29 June protested, demanding end to his rule; security forces dispersed crowd as it marched on Biya’s hotel.
Violence involving armed groups continued at low level as govt and armed groups made some progress forming bodies to implement Feb peace agreement. In north west, suspected members of armed group Révolution et Justice/Sayo (RJ-Sayo) 16 June killed four herders in Ougo village, Ouham prefecture. UN 20 June said 90 RJ-Sayo fighters had demobilised 30 May-1 June. In centre, clashes between rebel group Union for Peace in Central African Republic (UPC) and anti-balaka militants 20 June reportedly left at least six dead. In Tiringoulou in north east, militants mostly from ex-Seleka armed group Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) dissatisfied with peace deal 28 May formed new armed group Parti du Rassemblement de la nation Centrafricaine (PNRC). PM Ngrebada 13 June presided over third session of Executive Monitoring Committee tasked with implementing Feb agreement. Justice minister next day opened first meeting of National Implementation Committee. Police 15 June assaulted and arrested two French journalists and one protester during peaceful opposition demonstration in capital, Bangui; journalists were released same day and protester 19 June.
Clashes between Boko Haram (BH) and security forces continued in west and tensions emerged between govt and some international partners ahead of legislative elections later in 2019. In Lake Chad province in west, clashes between BH militants and security forces in Ngouboua 21 June left at least eleven soldiers and 26 BH combatants dead. Police 1 June used tear gas to disperse protests by youth-led movement Les Transformateurs in capital N’Djamena; German, Dutch and U.S. diplomats were reportedly present. Govt same day reportedly summoned Western diplomats to explain their presence at protest. U.S. embassy 7 June released statement pressing for credible parliamentary elections – due before end 2019 – and insisting that govt authorise political parties and allow them to organise meetings. Govt 10 June denounced statement as foreign interference in internal matter. French authorities 17 June arrested in France three Chadian opponents of President Déby including Mahamat Nouri, leader of rebel group based in southern Libya, Union of Democratic Forces for Development (UFDD), on suspicion of crimes against humanity committed in Chad and Sudan’s Darfur region between 2005 and 2010.
Struggle between President Ouattara’s coalition Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) and opposition Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire-African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA) led by Henri Konan Bédié continued to polarise political scene in run-up to 2020 elections. Some members of Union for Democracy and Peace in Côte d’Ivoire (UDPCI), part of RHDP coalition, questioned UDPCI’s support to RHDP and so decided to create new movements supporting RHDP called “2020, RHDP first” and “Tonkpi RHDP”. Popular Ivorian Front (FPI), party founded by former President Gbagbo, engaged in dialogue with other parties especially PDCI, officially for sake of national reconciliation as intercommunal violence continued in centre. Unidentified assailants 5 June shot dead Bohizra village chief in Zénoula area in centre west. Former youth leader Charles Blé Goudé, who was acquitted of crimes against humanity by International Criminal Court along with Gbagbo in Jan, said early June he wished to return from exile and help bring peace to country.
Ethnic violence erupted in Ituri province in north east and could escalate in July, insecurity and Ebola epidemic persisted in east, and opposition protested against constitutional court’s invalidation of over twenty of its legislative victories. In Ituri province in north east, longstanding enmity between ethnic Hema and Lendu erupted in clashes early June; by 18 June attacks and fighting in Djugu territory had left at least 170 dead. In North Kivu and Ituri provinces, by 23 June Ebola had killed over 1,500 since epidemic began in Aug 2018, and armed groups and communities continued to disrupt response. Two cases identified in neighbouring Uganda. Tshisekedi’s alliance Heading for Change (CACH) and Kabila’s coalition Common Front for Congo (FCC) 22 June agreed that of 45 ministries CACH members would head fifteen and FCC members 30; CACH would hold defence, foreign affairs and justice and FCC interior ministry, but Tshisekedi would choose interior minister. FCC contested Tshisekedi’s “unilateral” 3 June presidential orders to appoint new heads of national railways and mining company, which have yet to enter into force. In response, supporters of Tshisekedi’s party 10-11 June protested in capital Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Goma, clashing with security forces in Kinshasa. Constitutional court 11 June invalidated election of 33 MPs in Dec polls, 23 of them from opposition Lamuka platform, in each case benefitting FCC. U.S., UK, Switzerland and Canada 14 June criticised decisions for “undermin[ing] a peaceful political climate”. Tshisekedi 17 June met constitutional court’s president, who promised to review decisions. Lamuka supporters defied govt ban and protested on independence day 30 June in Kinshasa and Goma, North Kivu; police violently dispersed protests, one killed in Goma. Several political exiles returned including former VP Jean-Pierre Bemba 23 June, who signalled his opposition to Tshisekedi. Tshisekedi 8 June submitted DRC’s application to join East African Community and 13 June visited Burundian President Nkurunziza.
President Afwerki 14 June received in Asmara chairman of Sudanese Transitional Military Council for which he has expressed strong support.
Several high-level killings, which govt described as attempted coup against Amhara state govt, heightened tensions and triggered police crackdown on Amhara opposition. Gunmen killed Amhara state leader Ambachew Mekonnen and two advisers in regional capital Bahir Dar 22 June. Hours later in capital Addis Ababa, bodyguard reportedly shot dead army chief of staff General Seare Mekonnen and retired officer. Govt 23 June said killings connected and part of attempt to take power in Amhara state led by Brigadier General Asaminew Tsige, head of Amhara state security. Govt same day imposed internet blackout that would last till 27 June. Security forces 24 June reportedly killed General Asaminew in firefight near Bahir Dar. Following attacks, police reportedly arrested over 250 suspects including Amhara security officers, opposition figures, and dozens of supporters of Amhara ethno-nationalist party National Movement of Amhara. In north west, unidentified assailants 24 June reportedly killed over 50 people in Metakel area of Benishangul-Gumuz region; regional govt 26 June said attack could be linked to alleged coup attempt. Ethnic Gumuz attackers early June killed five displaced ethnic Ahmara in same area. Parliament 12 June appointed four new members to electoral board, major step in preparation of elections.
Authorities mid-June detained six members of army, reportedly after they admitted before Truth and Reconciliation Commission to having committed human rights violations during rule of former President Jammeh.
Tensions continued to rise between supporters and opponents of third term for President Condé ahead of 2020 presidential elections. Ruling party Rally for the Guinean People (RPG) and govt officials continued to promote referendum on constitutional amendments to allow Condé to run for third term. National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) – coalition launched in April by leading opposition and civil society figures to oppose constitutional reform – organised protest march 13 June in N’Zérékoré in south despite govt’s ban; security forces violently dispersed protest, one killed, 28 wounded and 38 arrested; local authorities imposed curfew in municipality. FNDC 19 June cancelled call for another march planned for next day in N’Zérékoré after reaching deal with local authorities.
President Vaz reappointed PM Gomes ending three-month stalemate, Vaz’s term ended 23 June, and regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said Vaz would remain in office until Nov presidential polls, but play no part in govt. With Vaz refusing to name as PM leader of ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) Domingos Simões Pereira, PAIGC 22 June, as compromise, proposed that Aristides Gomes continue as PM for second term “on behalf of peace and stability”; Vaz same day announced Gomes’s nomination but held off approval of cabinet. Opposition parties allied to Vaz Movement for a Democratic Alternative G-15 (MADEM G-15) and Party for Social Renewal (PRS) did not attend nomination ceremony. Parliament 27 June voted (54 to 48) that Vaz should step down and parliamentary speaker Cipriano Cassama should become interim president until Nov presidential elections. At 29 June summit, ECOWAS said Vaz would remain in office until Nov polls, but play no part in govt affairs. Attorney general 30 June opened criminal inquiry against speaker and PAIGC’s parliamentary leader for “subversion of democratic order” for trying to unseat Vaz. Struggle over parliamentary leadership continued to fuel protests: opposition parties MADEM G-15 and PRS demanded PAIGC accept their proposals for vice presidents of parliament; opposition and ruling coalition’s supporters staged rallies 6-7 June. After parliament 11 June suspended its session due to protests, MADEM G-15 chairman Braima Camará 20 June withdrew his candidacy for parliament’s vice-presidency in bid to resolve crisis and maintain peace; MADEM G-15 leadership same day said it would continue discussions to determine alternative candidate.
Al-Shabaab continued attacks on security forces in north east near Somalia border and Kenya-Somalia tensions remained high over disputed maritime border. In north east, clashes between police reservists and suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Mandera county 3 June left one reservist and one militant dead. Al-Shabaab 13 June abducted three police reservists in Wajir county and took them into Gedo region in Somalia; policemen in pursuit of kidnappers 15 June hit roadside bomb which killed at least ten. Military vehicle detonated roadside bomb in Damasa area 21 June, two injured. Security forces 22 June killed at least three Al-Shabaab militants after they attacked police outpost in Garissa county. In coastal Lamu county, Al-Shabaab militants accidentally detonated explosive device 14 June, four militants killed. Somali govt document leaked early June showing that Somalia had in Feb put on auction offshore oil blocks in maritime area disputed between Somalia and Kenya. Arab Parliament, Arab League’s parliamentary arm, 20 June called on Kenya to recognise Somalia’s maritime borders, and accused Kenya of violating Somalia’s sovereignty. International Court of Justice 25 June scheduled hearing for maritime border dispute for 9-13 Sept.
Thousands demonstrated 7 June in Monrovia to protest inter alia corruption and country’s economic decline, with some protesters calling President Weah “traitor”. Council of Patriots, coalition of opposition parties, trade unions and civil society organisations, which organised protest, same day circulated petition accusing govt of misusing public funds, violating press freedoms, and failing to adequately fund health and education programs, 9 June gave govt one month to address their concerns.
Electoral commission 15 June released provisional results of 27 May legislative elections: of 151 seats, President Rajoelina’s coalition Isika Rehetra Miaraka amin’i Andry Rajoelina won 78 and leading opposition party Tiako i Madagasikara (TIM) of former President Marc Ravalomanana won seventeen; turnout reportedly low at 31%. TIM 31 May denounced campaign irregularities. Police 8 June arrested 27 soldiers accused of killing three civilians same day in extortion attempt in Ambohimahasoa area; soldiers reportedly threatened magistrates handling case.
Following President Mutharika’s narrow re-election victory in May, thousands demonstrated countrywide to denounce alleged vote-rigging, in places clashing with police; with neither side backing down, confrontation could escalate in July. In capital Lilongwe, protesters 4 June stormed govt offices and clashed with police; during another demonstration 6 June police arrested one MP from opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and seventeen supporters. Protesters again clashed with police 20 June, two police officers injured; protests spread to economic capital Blantyre in south and Mzuzu in north. Govt 8 June pushed back against African Union’s 6 June condemnation of police’s use of force against protesters. High court 21 June rejected Mutharika’s request that it dismiss petitions by two opposition parties MCP and United Transformation Movement (UTM) to nullify election results; MCP and UTM applied to amend petitions, no longer calling for recount but for new election; govt and electoral commission appealed decision.
Ethnic militia carried out large-scale attacks in centre leaving at least 73 dead and raising risk of reprisals in July, and insecurity persisted in north. In Bandiagara circle, Mopti region, suspected Fulani gunmen 9 June attacked Dogon village of Sobane Da, killing between 35 and 95, and 17 June attacked Dogon villages of Gangafani and Yoro, killing at least 38. Dogon militiamen (Dozos) said Sobane attack was “declaration of war”. President Keïta and PM Cissé 11-12 June visited Sobane and promised strong measures, including immediate disarmament of all armed individuals. Keïta 20 June announced appointment of Dioncounda Traoré as High Representative for Central Mali to spearhead efforts to halt attacks. Unidentified assailants 23-24 June killed eight civilians in different attacks in Koro and Douentza circles, Mopti region and Macina circle, Ségou region. In north, violence increased in Ansongo circle, Gao region: unidentified assailants 3 June reportedly raped thirteen women and six girls in Gariya; attack in ethnic Daousak village of Amalaoulou 5 June killed seven. In joint military operation on Niger-Mali border 7-19 June, Malian and French forces killed twenty suspected jihadist militants in Akabar area. Govt 12 June asked for more UN peacekeepers to help protect civilians in centre; UN Security Council 27 June renewed UN mission (MINUSMA)’s mandate for one year, requesting it to respond to deteriorating security in centre in addition to original mandate of stabilising north. Some UN Security Council members, including U.S., urged parties that signed 2015 Algiers peace agreement to step up implementation. As part of govt efforts to implement deal, over 200 disarmed and demobilised former combatants of Mécanisme Opérationnel de Coordination (MOC) arrived in capital Bamako 12 June to start three-month military training before integration into army. National assembly 27 June passed bill proposed by govt to extend MPs’ mandate to 2 May 2020, notably due to insecurity in centre. Opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé 13 June described bill as “illegal”.
Suspected Islamist militants continued attacks in Cabo Delgado province in far north and friction emerged within former armed opposition Renamo. Suspected Islamist militants 28 May ambushed passenger truck in Macomia district, killing sixteen. For first time Islamic State (ISIS) 4 June claimed presence in Mozambique, saying it had repelled army in Metubi village, Mocimboa area; police denied claim. Insurgents 24 June killed seven people in Dacia administrative post, Mocimboa da Praia district, same day reportedly killed eleven in Quionga administrative post, Palma district. Group claiming to be Renamo’s military wing 12 June threatened to kill party leader Ossufo Momade and derail implementation of disarmament agreement signed with govt 2 June if Momade did not step down. Divisions appear to have been resolved and Renamo 26 June formally nominated Momade as its presidential candidate. South Africa’s armed forces 16 June killed two Mozambican border police in clash near Ndumu in north-eastern South Africa; following preliminary investigation, South Africa 18 June said it would send high-level delegation to Mozambique to further investigate.
Violence continued in south east near Nigeria and in west near Mali, and new law empowering authorities to monitor and sanction mosques and preachers sparked localised unrest. In Diffa region in south east, deadly attacks and kidnappings continued: Boko Haram (BH) faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) 8 June claimed abduction and killing of Christian near Bosso; suspected BH militants 9 June abducted thirteen in Alangayari; BH 10 June issued ultimatum to Christians to leave Diffa region; suspected BH militants 15 June killed NGO worker and driver in Tcholori; Fulani and Kanuri tribesmen 12 June clashed in Loumbouram, four reportedly killed; clashes between farmers and herders in Chetimari killed eleven mid-June. Govt 3 June said it had thwarted attacks in Diffa city and capital Niamey, and that security forces 2 June killed 53 suspected Islamist militants in joint operation with Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) near Lake Chad. Violence continued in Tillabery region in west: near border with Mali, joint operation involving U.S., French and Niger troops killed eighteen Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) fighters 8-18 June; ISGS 4 June reportedly killed man in Alkongui village; U.S. military vehicle 9 June detonated explosive device reportedly set by ISGS near Ouallam, no casualties. North of Niamey, unidentified gunmen 18 June attacked police station, killing two police officers. Parliament 17 June passed law that guarantees religious freedoms but empowers authorities to identify, monitor and sanction mosques and preachers, sparking outcry from Islamic civil society organisations and preachers. Police in Maradi in south 15 June arrested imam who criticised law as anti-Islamic, sparking riots in city; imam’s supporters set fire to church. Imam released 16 June, retracted his criticism and called for calm. Parliament 24 June passed new electoral law despite opposition’s boycott. Opposition same day filed vote of no confidence against govt of PM Rafini; parliament rejected it 28 June.
Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks in north east, criminal violence persisted in north west killing at least 170, and ethnic and herder-farmer violence persisted in north centre. In north east, military kept up counter-insurgency, notably killing nine members of BH faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) 10 June and 42 militants in operation by Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) 21 June. ISWAP 12 June attacked military base in Kareto, Borno state, claiming to have killed at least twenty soldiers; 17 June attacked Gajiram base, killing at least 28 soldiers. Three BH suicide bombers 16 June attacked improvised cinema in Konduga, 25km from Borno state capital Maiduguri, killing at least 30. Borno state’s governor 19 June urged federal govt to complement military campaign against BH with non-military strategies. Borno state govt 20 June secured release of civilian abducted by BH in Jan; govt said release was in line with efforts to open lines of communication with insurgents. In north west, army and air force killed scores of bandits in various operations, but banditry and other criminal violence continued in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Niger states, killing at least 170. Notably, in Zamfara state, bandits 6 June attacked village in Kanoma district, killing sixteen; 14 June attacked three villages, killing 34. In Sokoto state, bandits 8 June attacked three villages, killing at least 25 and looting hundreds of livestock; same day attacked Sapiru village, killing at least eighteen. Police said it arrested hundreds of suspected criminals in various states. President Buhari pledged renewed efforts to stop violence. In north centre, ethnic and herder-farmer violence killed at least 38 in Taraba and Benue states. Notably, in Taraba state, clashes between Tiv and Jukun communities and herder-farmer violence killed at least 21 in Wukari area 11-16 June and Ardo Kola and Donga areas 17 June; in Benue state, communal clash in Agatu area killed twelve people 30 June.
Tensions between Rwanda and Uganda persisted. Ugandan govt said that Rwandan security forces blocked some 200 Rwandan citizens from crossing into Uganda to attend religious festival 3 June. Rwanda 10 June reopened Katuna border crossing with Uganda for heavy cargo trucks for two weeks. Despite temporary opening, cross-border movement continued to face restrictions. Uganda 12 June reportedly deported twenty Rwandans.
Al-Shabaab kept up insurgency in capital Mogadishu and rural areas, tensions remained high between Puntland and Somaliland over contested areas and between Somalia and Kenya over disputed maritime border. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab 15 June launched two car bomb attacks in heavily secured govt areas killing eleven. In south, security forces killed five Al-Shabaab fighters in Gedo region 3-9 June; Al-Shabaab ambush of Kenyan soldiers in African Union mission (AMISOM) in Burgavo, Lower Juba 24 June left nine militants dead; clashes between security forces and Al-Shabaab near Bur Eyle, Bay region 22 June left eleven soldiers and five militants dead; Al-Shabaab attack on military base in Bulo Marer, Lower Shabelle 27 June left three militants and two soldiers dead; clashes between security forces and Al-Shabaab 27 June left at least eight militants dead in Jamame, Lower Juba; three Al-Shabaab militants surrendered to security forces in Bay and Gedo regions 2-11 June. In north, Al-Shabaab fighters 8 June captured military base in Af-Urur in Puntland only for Puntland forces to retake it 11 June without a fight; after suspected Al-Shabaab militants killed police officer near Galkayo, local militia 14 June killed nine members of Rahanweyn clan which it believes provides recruits to Al-Shabaab; Al-Shabaab bombing of teashop in Af-Urur 25 June killed four Puntland soldiers and one civilian. Puntland and Somaliland forces 14 June reportedly clashed in Badhan town in Sanaag region, which both administrations claim, no casualties. U.S. claimed its airstrikes killed six Islamic State (ISIS) militants and four Al-Shabaab fighters 4-25 June. Arab Parliament, legislative arm of Arab League, 20 June called on Kenya to recognise Somalia’s maritime borders. International Court of Justice 25 June scheduled hearing for maritime border dispute between Somalia and Kenya for 9-13 Sept.
Somaliland 3 June released seventeen prisoners from Puntland captured during May-June 2018 clashes in contested town of Tukaraq in exchange for Puntland releasing three Somalilanders. Puntland and Somaliland forces 14 June clashed in Badhan town in contested Sanaag region, no casualties reported. Govt 18 June shut down two independent television stations, allowed them to reopen end month. Somaliland 25 June attended meeting in Kenyan capital Nairobi aimed at building consensus on path toward resuming Somaliland-Somalia talks; Somalia federal govt did not take part.
Implementation of Sept 2018 peace agreement continued to stall ahead of deadline to form unity govt, extended in May for six months to Nov. In anticipation of unification of all signatory forces into national army, main rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) late May and early June claimed it had started sending troops to cantonment without official funding or commencement of cantonment. Independent Boundaries Commission, body tasked with proposing number of states into which country should be divided, 20 June handed its report to regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), but could not recommend specific number of states as it had failed to reach required supermajority on any proposal. President Kiir 12 June replaced petroleum minister. Govt 19 June sent envoy to Sudan to mediate between ruling military council and civilian opposition.
Security forces escalated attacks on protesters in capital Khartoum and surrounding areas early June, reportedly killing over 120, and external efforts to mediate between military leadership and civilian opposition failed to revive talks. Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) 3 June stormed sit-in protest outside army HQ in Khartoum, reportedly killing some 120 protesters. In following days paramilitary forces continued to roam Khartoum and abuse civilians and RSF reportedly resumed attacks in Darfur in west. African Union 6 June suspended Sudan’s participation in its activities until transition to civilian-led authority. After initially denying responsibility, Transitional Military Council (TMC) 14 June admitted ordering dispersal of sit-in. TMC 4 June cancelled all agreements with opposition coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), said it would form interim govt and hold elections within nine months, and imposed internet blackout; FFC same day called for countrywide strike and civil disobedience until TMC stepped down. On strike’s first day 9 June, security forces fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse protesters in Khartoum and Omdurman, reportedly killing four. Tens of thousands demonstrated countrywide 30 June; seven protesters reportedly killed in clashes with security forces. Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed and AU launched parallel mediation initiatives. Abiy 7 June met TMC chair al-Burhan and opposition in Khartoum. TMC same day detained protest leader Mohamed Esmat, 10 June deported leader, deputy and spokesman of rebel group and FFC member Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) to South Sudan. TMC 22 June pledged to free all imprisoned fighters from Darfuri armed opposition and hold talks with rebels in Chadian capital N’Djamena. TMC 9 June said it was willing to restart talks and FFC 12 June agreed to resume negotiations and end civil disobedience. FFC 22 June agreed to Ethiopian proposal for joint interim authority, but TMC rejected it 24 June. Ethiopia and AU next day submitted new joint proposal, including civilian-majority governing council, and TMC agreed to resume talks.
Authorities continued to repress opposition and tensions between Uganda and Rwanda persisted. In Gulu in north, authorities 4 June attempted to break up rally organised by opposition group People Power, which triggered protests by residents, one activist injured. During press conference in Gulu 15 June to announce fundraising event for musician-turned-opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, authorities arrested event promoter. Ugandan govt said that Rwandan security forces blocked some 200 Rwandan citizens from crossing into Uganda to attend religious festival 3 June. Rwanda Revenue Authority 10 June reopened Katuna border crossing with Uganda for heavy cargo trucks for two weeks. Despite temporary opening, cross-border movement continued to face restrictions. Uganda 12 June reportedly deported twenty Rwandans.
Amid worsening economic crisis and rising inflation, President Mnangagwa continued attempts to initiate political dialogue. Mnangagwa 14 June held Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) meeting; main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) same day again refused to take part. Security forces 5 June allegedly abducted and assaulted civil society leader Obert Masaraure for leading teachers’ union strike in early June. Police 7 and 10 June released on bail seven civil society leaders arrested in May for allegedly conspiring with U.S.-based NGO CANVAS to overthrow govt. Mnangagwa 7 June pledged “new currency” by end of year to replace country’s transitional currency Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollar. Govt 24 June, without notice, formally reintroduced Zimbabwe Dollar ending decade-long multi-currency regime, but generating uncertainty around prospects of arresting rapidly deteriorating economic conditions.
Intra-Afghan peace efforts continued, while violence on civilians remained high with insurgent bomb attacks and U.S. and Afghan airstrikes in numerous provinces including Ghazni, Logar, Paktika and Helmand. Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada 1 June rejected govt-requested temporary truce during Eid al Fitr religious holiday. Govt 11-14 June released 490 Taliban prisoners, first batch out of nearly 900 promised total; insurgent group praised move but claimed that only 261 prisoners were Taliban members. Seventh round of U.S.-Taliban talks began in Doha 29 June; talks followed U.S. Special Envoy Khalilzad 18 June remarks that U.S. sought “comprehensive peace agreement, not withdrawal agreement”. Violence in urban centres increased; in Kabul, Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) claimed 2 June explosion that killed two people, allegedly targeting bus with members of Shiite community; two more explosions followed, wounding several; unclaimed bombing 3 June killed five govt employees. In south-eastern Ghazni province, Taliban car bomb 1 June killed seven police. In Nangarhar provincial capital Jalalabad, IS-KP suicide bomber 13 June killed nine people. In Kandahar province, authorities 16 June reported eight Taliban killed in clashes in Takhta Pul district and along Kandahar-Tarinkot highway. Taliban late June continued attacks including suicide bombers killing at least 34 in attack on govt compound in Maruf district, Kandahar 30 June. U.S. and govt forces reportedly increased night raids and airstrikes, leading to civilian casualties; in northern Kunduz province, in case of mistaken identity, U.S. airstrike 11 June accidently killed six Afghan soldiers in response to soldiers mistakenly firing on U.S.-Afghan joint patrol; U.S. military reported two servicemen killed 26 June, in Taliban attack in Uruzgan province. UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan 9 June issued statement denouncing insurgent groups’ deliberate attacks on civilians, reporting at least 100 deaths in Kabul alone during Ramadan that ended 3 June, and urged all parties to meet obligations on civilian protection in line with international law. President Ghani 27 June visited Pakistani capital Islamabad for “wide-ranging talks”, including on Pakistan’s help facilitating intra-Afghan talks with Taliban.
Security forces continued anti-militancy operations while govt criticised Myanmar over delays to proposed repatriation of Rohingya refugees. Following late May arrest of a top leader of banned Hizb ut-Tahrir and an Islamic State-(ISIS) claimed bomb that injured three in Dhaka, Minister for Home Affairs 1 June said despite increasing organisation, militants “have no capacity to carry out big attacks”; however, govt put all police units on heightened alert. Following Myanmar Minister for State Counsellor’s Office 31 May saying Bangladesh “not cooperating” with bilateral processes for repatriation of Rohingya, PM Hasina 9 June said Myanmar “in no way” wants repatriation; FM Momen 12 June criticised Myanmar for spreading “blatant lies” and failing “to keep its promises” and urged international community to increase pressure on Naypyitaw.
Amid continued efforts to improve relations, Chinese President Xi met with Japanese PM Abe 27 June ahead of G20 summit in Osaka; at meeting Abe called for “new age of Japan-China relations”. Japanese warships 10 June spotted Chinese guided missile destroyer and combat supply ship near Okinawa, while Japan’s Defence Ministry reported seeing Chinese aircraft carrier sailing through Miyako strait in East China Sea next day. Japan Air Force 16 June scrambled jets to intercept Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) electronic warfare and surveillance plane passing through Miyako strait. Japan’s Foreign Ministry 17 June lodged protest with Beijing after Chinese maritime ship spotted conducting survey near disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands; same day, Japanese coast guard reported seeing four Chinese patrol ships around islands.
Clashes between security forces and Maoists continued: in Jharkhand state, insurgents and security forces clashed in Gumla district 1 June, killing one soldier and five militants, while insurgents 14 June killed five policemen in ambush in Tiruldih; in Bijapur district, Chhattisgarh state, Maoists 23 June assassinated police officer and gunfight broke out 28 June, killing two soldiers and two children. Maoist cadres carried out targeted killings of alleged “police informers”: in Bastar district, Chhattisgarh, suspected Maoists 1 June hacked alleged informer to death; in Jharkhand, insurgents 1 June shot civilian – abducted previous day – in Lohardaga district and 5 June killed civilian in Garhwa district. Maharashtra state police arrested two top Maoist commanders, suspected of 1 May bombing which killed fifteen commandos and one civilian in Gadchiroli district, in Hyderabad 12 June. In Bijapur district, Chhattisgarh, Maoists 18 June abducted and executed local Samajwadi Party leader Santosh Punem.
Pakistan attempted to restart bilateral dialogue process with India, while militant attacks against security forces continued in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Pakistani PM Khan and FM Qureshi renewed offers to resume dialogue – frozen since 2016 terror attacks in India’s Punjab province that New Delhi attributes to Pakistan-based militants Jaish-e-Mohammad (Jaish) – in letters sent to Indian counterparts 8 June; Pakistani official 20 June claimed Indian PM Modi and FM Jaishankar “responded positively”; Indian officials same day rejected Pakistani account, reporting Modi stressed importance of environment “free of terror” as condition to resume talks. In J&K, militant-related violence continued. In Pulwama district, security forces 7-14 June killed six alleged Jaish militants, including two police deserters, and 26 June killed suspected Lashkar-e-Tayyaba member while explosion killed two soldiers 17 June. In Anantang district, militants 12-18 June launched several attacks on security forces, leaving at least ten soldiers and four militants dead. Security forces 11 June gunned down two militants in Shopian district. Following May general elections and low turnout in J&K, former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti 19 June called for ceasefire and resumption of political dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir.
Constitutional Court (CC) rejected bid to annul April presidential election in which incumbent President Widodo was victorious, while police arrested several suspected militants in raids. Lawyers for failed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto 14 June officially challenged election results to CC claiming systematic fraud; head of electoral commission denied charges. Court 27 June rejected case brought by Subianto. Amid fears of pro-Subianto supporters rioting following violent protests in May, govt deployed close to 50,000 police and military personnel in Jakarta during hearing; media reported hundreds of peaceful protesters gathered outside court prior to decision. Anti-terror police Densus 88 mid-June detained 34 suspects with alleged ties to Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) during raids in Central Kalimantan province. Local media reported police 29 June arrested leader of Jemaah Islamiyah group in West Java province. Police 3 June arrested suspected ISIS sympathiser after failed suicide bomb attempt in Central Java, in which only suspect sustained injuries.
North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump held meeting in demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, agreeing to restart stalled denuclearisation negotiations. During visit to South Korea, Trump 29 June tweeted invite to Kim, asking latter to meet next day at “border/DMZ”; North quickly responded. Trump and Kim 30 June met in DMZ, with Trump becoming first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea. Kim said meeting was “very significant” and would have “positive influence” on future discussions, while Trump said he was “proud to step over line” into North Korea and said negotiators from both countries would meet in coming weeks. South Korean leader Moon Jae-in also present at parts of DMZ meeting. Meeting followed letter from Kim to Trump mid-June, and North Korean state media 23 June reporting Kim Jong-un received letter from Trump which Kim praised as “excellent”; U.S. Sec of State Mike Pompeo same day confirmed Trump sent letter. Earlier in month, Chinese President Xi 20-21 June visited Pyongyang and met with Kim for celebration of 70 years of China-DPRK diplomatic relations, first visit of a Chinese leader to North Korea in fourteen years. U.S. defence intelligence agency director 24 June said in interview Kim is “not ready to denuclearise”. South Korea’s Unification Ministry 5 June approved $8mn aid package to North Korea and 19 June announced it would send 50,000 tons of rice, worth more than $100mn, to be delivered through UN agencies. South Korea reported that during 3 June meeting in Seoul, South Korean President Moon and acting U.S. Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan reaffirmed sanctions on North Korea must remain in place to achieve successful denuclearisation.
Fighting between Arakan Army (AA) and Myanmar military continued in Rakhine and southern Chin states. Clashes in Minbya township, Rakhine, 2-3 June caused civilian casualties including seven killed and seven injured when mortars struck monastery sheltering civilians. UN 10 June reported some 1,000 villagers displaced to Minbya town; further 1,000 reportedly fled villages in southern Chin state due to clashes. Military early June confirmed at least five officers, including two battalion commanders, killed during fighting between late May and early June, but rejected AA claims that over 1,100 soldiers had been killed in 2019. Govt 2o June ordered telecommunication providers to shut down internet services in nine townships in Rakhine and Chin states the following day, claiming internet was used to “coordinate illegal activities”. Lull in fighting in Kachin and Shan states continued amid military’s unilateral ceasefire, and May-agreed fragile ceasefire between two competing Shan armed groups – Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) – continued to hold. Nationwide ethnic peace process remained moribund; Karen National Union, one of largest armed groups, continued to suspend participation in formal process. Despite arrival of monsoon and dangerous sea conditions, Rohingya Muslims increased attempts to cross Bay of Bengal from Bangladesh to Malaysia, including more than 60 Rohingya found in boat beached on island in southern Thailand 11 June due to engine issues; Bangladesh govt said hundreds found trying to leave were returned to camps. Govt tensions with Bangladesh increased over issue of repatriation of Rohingya refugees: after Myanmar Minister for State Counsellor’s Office 31 May said Bangladesh “not cooperating” with bilateral processes, Bangladesh PM Hasina 9 June said Myanmar “in no way” wants repatriation; Bangladeshi FM Momen 12 June criticised Naypyitaw for spreading “blatant lies”, failing “to keep its promises” and urged international community to increase pressure on Myanmar for repatriation. Court 18 June began trial in absentia of hardline monk U Wirathu on charges of sedition relating to disparaging comments he made about State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
Govt intensified response against hardline Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) amid allegations of an extrajudicial killing. Local media reported police 20 June killed Kumar Paudel, CPN’s top leader in Sarlahi district; Paudel second CPN individual killed in alleged police action in two months; death aroused suspicions, including in parliament, of extrajudicial killing; MPs 24 June questioned Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa with one MP claiming Paudel may have been shot with his hands tied. CPN 24 June called nationwide strike in protest of killing; IEDs found in several places around country. Govt also received widespread criticism for proposed legislation aimed at nationalising ownership of community-based trusts – known as Guthis; critics claimed govt sought to commercially benefit from nationalisation while undermining religious and cultural practices of indigenous Newar community; police 9 June injured six in alleged use of force against Guthi bill protesters; despite govt 18 June withdrawing bill, thousands 19 June took to streets in Kathmandu in largest mass demonstration since 2006 People’s Movement. Police 7 June arrested comedian Pranesh Gautam on charges of violating Cyber Crime Act, rights activists criticised charges as dubious; Gautam released on court order 16 June.
Amid heightened political tensions, authorities escalated corruption probes on opposition leadership while militant attacks continued and govt continued crackdown on Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), civil rights movement from former Federally Administered Tribal Areas. National Accountability Bureau (NAB) 10 June arrested Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) co-chairman and former President Asif Ali Zardari on corruption charges and following day arrested Hamza Sharif, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader in Punjab Assembly; PPP and PML-N officials 15 June jointly denounced arrests as politically motivated, vowing to work together against govt. Following 26 May clashes in North Waziristan between military and Pashtun protestors led by PTM-affiliated MPs Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar – in which PTM claim military killed fourteen protesters, while police later arrested Dawar and Wazir – tensions increased over govt’s crackdown on PTM; PPP 1 June called on National Assembly speaker to issue order to allow Dawar and Wazir to inform parliament of their version of events. Govt 2 June filed references of misconduct to Supreme Judicial Council against two independent judges, for failing to disclose foreign properties; PPP and PML-N condemned references as attempt to undermine independent judges and called for their withdrawal; leading lawyers’ associations 14 June held countrywide protest calling for resignation of law minister and attorney general. Militant violence continued; in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s North Waziristan tribal district militants 1 June killed one soldier in Boya area and 7 June killed three army officers and a soldier in Kharqamar area. In Balochistan province, explosion 6 June killed two soldiers in Harnai district; two explosive devices 7 June killed five in Ziarat district; three Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) suicide bombers 26 June attacked police station in Quetta, killing one officer. In Punjab province, Counter Terrorism Department 20 June reported killing two prominent Islamic State-Khorasan members in raid in Multan city. In Gujrat city in east, security forces 30 June raided suspected TTP hideout, killing three militants.
Clashes between authorities and communist rebels continued and govt conducted raids against Abu Sayyaf militants in south. Govt troops killed vice chairman of New People’s Army (NPA) 13 June in Sorsogon province; same day, suspected NPA fighters attacked police station in Mindanao province in south. Govt task force to end communist insurgency, created by President Duterte under executive order in 2018, reported NPA members 15 June killed two human rights activists in Sorsogon. In Negros Occidental, military 20 June killed two NPA militants in shoot-out in Santa Catalina town while one soldier died in clash with NPA in Manjuyod next day. Authorities early June arrested six suspected Abu Sayyaf members in separate raids in south; military announced deployment of 1,700 additional troops in Jolo to fight militants. Malaysian officials said Filipino gang members with suspected links to Abu Sayyaf militants abducted ten fishermen off Borneo island 18 June, taking them to southern Philippines; police 22 June reported that some hostages were freed in Sulu province, though total released remained unclear. Suicide bomb at military base in Jolo killed five and injured twelve 28 June; Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for attack while military said ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf likely behind attack. Police in Cotabato province 10 June shot dead an ISIS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter militant who had escaped detention in 2018. Security forces 15 June arrested two militants in Quezon city who took part in Marawi City siege of 2017. Filipino fishing boat sank following 9 June collision with Chinese vessel in contested waters in South China Sea (see South China Sea).
Tensions continued between Philippines and China after Filipino fishing boat carrying 22 fishermen sank following 9 June collision with Chinese fishing vessel in contested waters near Reed Bank; Vietnamese vessel in area rescued fishermen. Philippines govt 13 June filed protest with China, which denied its vessel hit fishing boat and abandoned Filipino fishermen; Philippines President Duterte 17 June called it “a maritime incident”, accepted China’s 22 June invitation to conduct joint investigation. Philippines coast guard 10 June reported spotting Chinese warship near contested Scarborough Shoal during four-day patrol. Beijing early June held military exercises near contested Paracel Islands. At ASEAN summit in Thailand, Duterte 23 June expressed “concern and disappointment” over delayed negotiations of Code of Conduct in SCS. CNN 21 June published satellite images reportedly showing at least four Chinese fighters jets deployed on contested Woody (Yongxing) Island.
Fallout from April terror attack continued with public hearings into bombings and increased anti-Muslims campaigns. During public parliamentary hearings from late May to mid-June, former defence, police and intelligence officials revealed police and intelligence services had prior knowledge of Zaharan Hashim, leader of National Towheed Jamaat (NTJ) and chief organiser of attacks; testimony revealed major lapses in processing of intelligence, leading to widespread criticism of govt including President Sirisena. Sirisena 22 June extended state of emergency for further month. Security forces arrested over 1800 Muslims in connection to bombings or related incidents; over 350 remained in custody amid Muslim community leaders and detainees’ families protesting that many had no connections to attacks or extremist groups. Buddhist nationalists continued anti-Muslim campaigns; senior Buddhist monk 15 June called on Buddhists to boycott Muslim-owned shops and restaurants as they would lead to sterilisation of Sinhalese; calls came after Sinhalese newspaper’s May accusation that a prominent Muslim doctor – subsequently detained under anti-terrorism laws – secretly sterilised 4,000 Sinhalese women; police investigations found no evidence to support charges. Following nationalist monk 31 May launching hunger strike demanding prosecution of doctor and removal of one Muslim minister and two Muslim governors from posts, accusing them of terrorism links, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, leader of hardline Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena released from prison by presidential pardon in May, 2 June threatened national “pandemonium” if govt did not remove politicians; next day, all nine Muslim ministers and two governors resigned, announcing govt had month to hold independent investigation into charges against the three. International community condemned anti-Muslim campaign; officials from Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Sri Lanka 4 June expressed concern at threats to “lives and livelihoods of Muslims”, urging govt to prevent communal violence, while EU and eight European embassies 12 June issued joint-statement expressing concern at “political and religious pressure” on Muslims.
Chinese defence minister 2 June warned that foreign intervention over “Taiwan question is doomed to fail” and said China would not “cede an inch” of territory. Taiwan defence ministry requested purchase of tanks and air defence systems from U.S. early June, prompting protest from China’s foreign ministry. Members of Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party attended opening ceremony of cross-strait forum, aimed at promoting exchange and integration between mainland China and Taiwan, held in China mid-June; govt criticised move and warned KMT it could face disbandment if it engaged in political talks or signed any agreement. Canadian warship 18 June sailed through Taiwan Strait.
Violence in deep south continued amid stalled peace talks. Following three separate late May incidents, including two IED explosions, that killed five and wounded several in south, IED blast 3 June, on day that Ramadan ended, wounded civilian in Waeng District, Narathiwat. In Pattani’s Yaring district, gunmen 9 June killed Buddhist defence volunteer, while Muslim man wounded in separate shooting same day. Gunmen 10 June shot four people in three separate attacks in Pattani and Narathiwat, killing three. Gunmen 15 June shot and killed two Buddhists in Rangae district, Narathiwat. Malaysian peace-dialogue facilitator Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor visited southernmost Thailand 11-14 June, first visit since appointment as facilitator in Aug 2018, made no announcement of renewed talks between Thai govt and Malay-Muslim separatist groups. After Democrat and Bhum Jai Thai parties formed coalition govt with pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party late May, parliament 5 June re-elected Prayuth Chan-ocha as PM; new govt to be seated 17 July, with junta to retain authority until then.
Court 25 June ordered arrest of Robert Kocharyan, country’s second president, first arrested in July 2018 for overturning constitutional order in 2008 but released in May after state prosecutors appealed for his pre-trial release at constitutional court.
Judicial proceedings targeting journalists continued. Court in Baku sentenced Ikram Rahimov, chief editor of independent news site Realliq, 12 June to five and a half years in prison for extortion. Sabil district court 14 June ordered Polad Aslanov, chief editor of independent new site Xeberman, to remain in detention on charge of high treason. In unexpected reshuffling in key security institutions 20 June, Interior Minister Ramil Usubov was appointed secretary of presidential security council, and replaced by his first deputy Vilayet Eyvazov; head of state security service Madat Guliyev became minister of defence industry and was replaced by Ali Nagiyev, his former deputy chief. Police briefly detained Ali Karimli, leader of opposition Popular Front Party 28 June on charges of trying to undermine public stability.
Tensions continued between majority Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska (RS) and Bosniak-Croat Federation entity over RS parliament’s proposed bill to form reserve police force. In response to new RS parliamentary discussions over draft legislation in RS parliament 11 June, Federation entity announced plans to introduce its own reserve police force. RS 24 June withdrew bill under international pressure, including reportedly from U.S. envoys; instead interior ministry announced it would form gendarmerie that would include young police recruits. In response, lawmakers from Federation entity dropped plans for its own force. Office of the High Representative, international overseer of implementation of 1995 peace agreement, and several European embassies 7 June released joint statement condemning alleged misconduct of president of High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council who faces accusations of bribery.
Tensions persisted between Republic of Cyprus and Turkey over hydrocarbon exploration in east Mediterranean. After Ankara 4 June announced it would soon start drilling north east of Cyprus, Turkish President Erdoğan 7 June vowed not to allow Nicosia to proceed with gas exploration without including Turkish Cypriots. Cypriot authorities 14 June confirmed arrest warrants against companies, company executives and crew involved in exploration activities of the Turkish drilling vessel “Fatih” off Cyprus coast, in what Nicosia says is its exclusive economic zone. Erdoğan 16 June threatened to deploy navy if Nicosia attempted to arrest crew, and Turkey 20 June sent second drilling vessel, Yavuz, to east Mediterranean Sea. Nicosia 28 June issued reserve for early-July naval exercises, covering area where Turkish vessel is anchored. French President Macron 14 June reiterated his “solidarity with Cyprus” and called Turkey to “respect its [Cyprus’] sovereignty”. At EU Council meeting in Brussels 2o June, European Council endorsed Greek PM Tsipras’s invitation to EU Commission and European External Action Service “to submit options for appropriate measures [against Turkey] without delay”.
Russian MP’s perceived insult to Georgia during 26th General Assembly of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy prompted thousands to protest in capital Tbilisi and raised tensions between Georgia and Russia. Russian MP, Sergey Gavrilov, provoked outrage 20 June when, broadcast live on various Georgian TV channels, he addressed Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy held in Georgia’s parliament building in Tbilisi from seat of Georgian parliament speaker and spoke in Russian. Group of Georgian opposition MPs rushed to parliament building to demand suspension of session. Protesters same day gathered outside parliament and Russian delegation’s hotel prompting Russian delegation to return to Russia; thousands took to streets in Tbilisi demanding resignation of senior officials whom they held responsible for Russian MP’s appearance in parliament; that night opposition MPs and supporters stormed parliament leading to clashes with riot police; police forcibly dispersed protesters hospitalising over 240 and arresting about 300. Protests continued till end month and were set to continue in July, with demonstrators calling for resignations of top officials, electoral reform and early elections. Parliamentary speaker and MP who had organised 20 June event resigned 21 June and ruling party agreed to initiate electoral reform. Russian President Putin 21 June temporarily banned passenger flights to Georgia from 8 July and ordered evacuation of Russian citizens from Georgia. Russian FM 24 June blamed West for “engineering” protests. De facto Abkhaz security forces 27 June announced restrictions for crossing into breakaway region in response to Tbilisi protests.