By: Syed Anwar Shah
ISLAMABAD: The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Research Centre, a non-governmental organisation, has reported 44 per cent decrease in violent incidents this year during the July to September quarter compared to the previous quarter, citing the increased threat of landmines looming in the remote areas.
According to the report, compared to 100 violent incidents that were reported in the previous quarter (April to June 2017), 56 violent incidents, both terrorism and counter-terrorism from July to September of the current year, mark a 44 per cent decline in violent incidents.
During July-September 2017, a total of 33 terrorist attacks were carried out by terrorist outfits across FATA. Of these, 17 terrorist attacks (40 per cent) targeted the security forces while 15 attacks (39 per cent) were directed at civilians. Three per cent of the attacks were launched by terrorists against members of Aman Lashkar (Peace Committee).
On the other hand, the security forces conducted 18 search operations which accounted for 87 per cent of the total CT operations. Two aerial strikes were conducted as part of the Khyber IV Operation against terrorists in Khyber Agency, while the US authorities carried out drone strikes against terrorists in the area. Three terrorists, including a mid-level commander of Haqqani Network, were reported killed in the US drone strikes carried out in Kurram Agency.
Khyber Agency, where military operation Khyber IV was launched, remained the prime focus of CT operations. Out of 23 CT operations, eight IBOs and two aerial strikes were carried out in Khyber Agency. The Rajgal area of Tirah valley, where the military operation was launched in July remained the most unsettled region of the agency.
The violent incidents, both terrorist and counter-terrorist resulted in a total of 141 casualties –66 killed and 75 injured – across FATA. Figures show that civilians remained the main target of terrorist activity during the July-September 2017. Most of the civilian casualties were reported in the Bajaur Agency where 5 civilians were killed while 32 others were injured. Mohmand and Khyber Agency were next on the list with 10 and nine respectively.
Similarly, 35 terrorists were killed while five others injured during the outgoing quarter which represent 17 per cent of the overall casualties. The security forces suffered 41 casualties (18 killings and 23 injuries) during the third quarter. On one occasion, terrorist also targeted members of the Aman Lashkar in Bajaur Agency via IED attack in Shagoo area of War Mamond in Bajaur Agency. Both the elder and his son remained unhurt, however, their car was partially damaged.
A breakdown of the terrorist attacks illustrates that IEDs remained the most preferred tactic of terrorists during the third quarter of 2017. Of the total 33 terrorist incidents, 23 (43 per cent) were IED attacks against forces. On two occasions, terrorists resorted to cross border attack against forces which accounted for seven per cent of the total terrorist attacks. One incident of target killing and one ambush were also reported during the third quarter of 2017.
The comparative analysis of the third quarter (July-September) 2017 and second quarter (April-June) of 2017 illustrates that violent incidents, both terrorism and CT have witnessed a downward trend during the outgoing quarter. A significant decline of 44 per cent was witnessed in overall violent incidents across FATA during the third quarter (July-September) 2017, as compared to the second quarter (April-June) 2017.