India-Pakistan: Swat Valley Blows Up


October 29, 2007: In the Indian controlled portion of Kashmir, terrorist violence is down by more than half this year. This is due to better control of the Pakistani border (where fresh terrorists, trained in Pakistani camps, come across), and an increasingly anti-terrorist attitude among the Kashmiri Moslems. Thus there are fewer Islamic terrorists, and more civilians willing to turn them in. In response, the terrorists have been more violent towards Moslems who would not support them. This backfired, and local Moslems became more hostile to the Islamic militants.

In Pakistan's Swat valley, Islamic radicals are asking for a truce. The army has demonstrated they have the firepower and determination to kill all the pro-Taliban tribesmen there. Several hundred people, mostly tribesmen, have been killed or wounded so far. Thousands of civilians are fleeing the area, because the fighting appears ready to escalate again.

October 28, 2007: Islamic radicals in Pakistan's Swat valley beheaded 14 civilians and security personnel in an attempt to intimidate the government. The army came back with artillery and helicopter gunships.

In eastern India, police continue to pursue a group of Maoist rebels, who attacked a public gathering two days ago and killed 17 people. At least four of the Maoist gunmen have been hunted down and killed so far. The increased police activity in areas where Maoists operate has caused the rebels to change tactics. They can no longer move about in small groups (a dozen or fewer gunmen), to intimidate local officials, businessmen or police. So the Maoists are forming larger groups of gunmen, often several dozen armed people, and taking on the larger police patrols, and spreading terror with larger scale attacks.

October 27, 2007: In Pakistan's Swat valley, troops surrounded and closed in on hundred of armed Islamic radicals who had come to protect a radical cleric. This situation rapidly developed because the cleric, and several others, had figured out how to use radio broadcasting equipment (easily available if you have the cash) to set up illegal FM radio stations. These were used to broadcast religious and anti-government propaganda.

October 25, 2007: In Pakistan's Swat valley, a suicide bomber's explosives set off an army truck full of ammunition, killing 21 people, most of them soldiers.

October 24, 2007: In northwest Pakistan, several thousand troops have moved to capture a radical cleric who has built an "army" of several hundred armed followers, and is trying to take control of the Swat valley. Heretofore, the Taliban has been more subtle, but the government will not allow such a blatant power grab by Islamic militants. But there's another angle to the Swat violence; rivalry between local religious leaders. The religious passions in the region often lead to fighting between local partisans of this cleric or that.

October 23, 2007: Pakistani police are making little progress in tracking down who was responsible for the October 18 suicide bomb attack against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Taliban , government and Bhutto supporters all blame each other for the bombing. The Bhutto crowd is calling for an outside (the country) team to investigate. Many government officials (especially police, army and intelligence) are sympathetic to Islamic radicals. While there have been many attempts to remove these pro-Taliban officials, most have failed because the traitorous officials are discrete and protect each other. Some play both sides, making themselves useful to their government bosses, while still supporting Islamic radical activity.


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