Key trends in South Asia last week include: armed clashes between security forces and domestic rebel groups in Pakistan and India; electoral violence in India; and coronavirus related violence across the region.
In Pakistan, four militants attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi, killing two security guards and one police personnel. All four militants were killed by security forces. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack. In November 2018, BLA claimed an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, killing four people including two security personnel and two civilians. BLA militants have often targeted Chinese nationals and projects, accusing them and the Pakistani government of exploiting the province’s natural resources (BBC, 29 June 2020). The latest attack in Karachi appears to continue this trend, as a Chinese consortium holds significant shares in the Pakistan Stock Exchange (Dawn, 23 December 2016; Indian Express, 1 July 2020).
In India, security forces continued their operations against domestic militant groups in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Nine militants, including a commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), were killed in clashes between security forces and the militant groups (Scroll, 29 June 2020). In June, security forces made significant gains in their fight against militancy in the region, killing several high profile militant commanders, including the chief of HM (Hindustan Times, 30 June 2020). Since April, a spike in the number of armed clashes and fatalities has been reported in the region, despite continuous lockdowns enforced to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Elsewhere in India, violence continued surrounding preparation for the upcoming Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) elections. Supporters of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) assaulted Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists and vandalized a BJP electoral campaign office in West Tripura district. In West Bengal, violence continued over Cyclone Amphan relief efforts. Two local leaders of Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) (SUCI) and Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) were found dead after a clash in South 24 Parganas district. The clash was over allegations against the TMC-led state government relating to irregularities in enlisting cyclone relief beneficiaries (Tribune India, 4 July 2020).
Last week, coronavirus-related violence was reported across South Asia. In Pakistan, a violent demonstration over the alleged assault of prisoners, and a ban on visits due to the coronavirus, resulted in injuries to three prisoners and two prison guards. In Bangladesh, suspected coronavirus patients clashed with security forces over the repeated collection of samples for tests. In Nepal, locals clashed with security forces to obstruct the cremation of a coronavirus patient in their area. In India, a youth was attacked by locals for not wearing a mask in public.
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