1st quarter of 2019 witnesses 12% increase in violence-related fatalities: report

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–Balochistan witnesses over 158% rise in fatalities, erstwhile FATA saw 75% drop

ISLAMABAD: The first quarter of 2019 was quite volatile for Pakistan with an overall 12% increase in violence related fatalities, as compared to year 2018, as Balochistan witnessed an over 158% rise in fatalities, while the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) region saw a nearly 75% drop.

The Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in its Quarterly Security Report 2019 released on Monday revealed that  Balochistan remained a hotbed of violence which stood at the top with 194 casualties; however, the tribal districts of KP appeared as the least affected region, despite being the hub of militants at one point with 30 casualties.

According to the report, there were 417 casualties of violence (228 fatalities and 189 injuries) during the first quarter of 2019.

A total of 194 casualties including 62 fatalities and 132 injuries reported in Balochistan in the first quarter while KP remained second with 69 casualties including 48 fatalities and 21 injuries.

Similarly, in Sindh 67 casualties reported with 53 fatalities and 15 injuries, Punjab 54 casualties with 44 fatalities and 10 injuries, erstwhile FATA 30 casualties with 20 fatalities and 10 injuries, while in Islamabad 2 casualties were reported with one each fatalities and injury.

However, the report showed that during the first quarter no casualty reported in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB).

According to the report, since the first quarter of 2017, with the exception of Q3, 2018, there has been an overall downward trend in violence until Q4, 2018; however first quarter of 2019 showed a nearly 12% overall increase in violence-related fatalities of which Karachi district was most affected provincial capital by violence this quarter, as there were 36 fatalities which was jumped to 48 this quarter.

Similarly, the districts of Loralai and Dera Ismail Khan showed an alarming increase in violence this quarter, when compared to Q4, 2018.

In Loralai there was no such incident reported in fourth quarter of 2018, but this quarter 27 violence-related fatalities reported, while in Dera Ismail Khan the number jumped from 2 to 16 in the same period.

Moreover, the report showed that casualties witnessed in an increase in South Waziristan from 6 in the fourth quarter in 2018 to 8 in first quarter in 2019; however a considerably decreased witnessed in such incidents in North Waziristan which came down from 26 to 8 casualties in the same period.

The primary method of violence used in this quarter was target killings following with the two suicide attacks.

The fatalities of civilians and security officials didn’t see any improvement in this quarter, in comparison to the last quarter – October to December 2018, though a slight decrease from 74% to 62% and 25% to 19% was observed respectively in total number of fatalities; however militants’ fatalities went up from 25% to 28%.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was the only proscribed outfit that claimed responsibility for suicide and an armed attack that targeted security personnel and installations in Loralai and Ziarat. Unlike previous quarter, Daish (Islamic State), made no claim of any terror attack during this quarter but they lost seven high ranking militants in security operations. TTP, on the other hand, lost thirteen militants in security operations that were carried out in North Waziristan, Hangu and Loralai.

Moreover, sectarian-related violence declined in this quarter as compared to the last quarter and was only limited in Punjab and Sindh with six fatalities.

Target killings replaced suicide bombings as the primary method of violence this quarter. As many as 83 persons lost their lives to target killings in Q1 2019, while two suicide attacks, left 9 persons dead. The number of dead bodies found was 23 this quarter, up from 7 in Q4 2018.