Key trends in South Asia last week include: cross-border clashes between Indian and Chinese forces as well as Indian and Pakistani forces; fighting between security forces and domestic rebel groups in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K); targeted attacks by domestic rebel groups in Pakistan; and coronavirus-related violence across the region.
In India, 20 Indian security personnel were killed following clashes with Chinese security forces at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley. The clashes marked the first incident between Indian and Chinese forces resulting in fatalities since 1975 (BBC, 16 June 2020). While there has been no official confirmation, reports also suggest fatalities among Chinese security forces (India Today, 21 June 2020). Infrastructure development activities along the LAC have escalated tensions at the India-China border in recent months (Washington Post, 2 June 2020). In May, Indian and Chinese security personnel engaged in fistfights at the border in Ladakh and the northeastern state of Sikkim. Recently, India has undertaken several development projects including the construction of a road along the LAC, linking remote areas to the rest of Ladakh (Washington Post, 2 June 2020). In retaliation, China deployed troops and began developing its infrastructure along the LAC (BBC, 30 May 2020). Last week’s incident sparked nationwide protests and calls for the boycott of Chinese products across India.
Elsewhere in the country, one member of the Indian security forces and four Pakistani civilians were reportedly killed during cross-border exchanges between Indian and Pakistani personnel. In J&K, Indian security forces continued operations against domestic militant groups. Twelve militants, including from Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), were reportedly killed in the operations. Over the past month, security forces have made significant gains in the region, killing several high profile militant commanders, including the chief of HM and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGuH) (Hindu, 6 May 2020; BBC, 26 May 2020).
In Pakistan, targeted attacks on security forces and civilians were reported in Sindh province. In Ghotki district, two security personnel and one civilian were killed in an explosion near a security vehicle, while one civilian was killed in a grenade attack in the provincial capital Karachi. The Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA) claimed responsibility for the attacks. This is the fourth attack claimed by the SRA in the last two weeks. The SRA is a Sindh-based militant group aiming to establish an independent Sindh (Gandhara, 19 June 2020).
Frontline health workers battling coronavirus continued to be targeted with violence in several countries across the region. In Nepal, people housed at a coronavirus quarantine center assaulted and injured health workers after one of them tested positive for the coronavirus. In India, an on-duty medical officer of a coronavirus quarantine center in Manipur state was attacked by patients staying at the center demanding the discharge slip of another patient. In Punjab state, a local health worker reporting the arrival of migrant workers was attacked and injured along with her family members. In Pakistan, a police officer, who was being told to follow coronavirus safety protocols at a hospital, shot and injured a cardiologist at the hospital.
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