Over the past month in South Asia and Afghanistan, the National Resistance Front (NRF) and Islamic State (IS) continued to clash with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, unidentified groups carried out drone attacks against Taliban forces, while civilians remained the target of unknown groups, Taliban authorities, and IS. In Pakistan, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and unidentified armed groups clashed with state forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Baloch separatists targeted security forces and civilians in Balochistan, while unidentified groups killed local political leaders in Punjab. In India, Islamist militants engaged in armed clashes and civilian targeting in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), while Naxal-Maoist rebels clashed with state forces and continued attacks against civilians in the Red Corridor. In Sri Lanka, anti-government demonstration activity decreased following the arrests of prominent protest leaders. In Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) held nationwide demonstrations against price hikes, while United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) members clashed with Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) members in Chittagong division.
In Afghanistan, the NRF continued to clash with the Taliban in Panjshir, Takhar, Kapisa, Badakhshan, and Baghlan provinces during the past month. The group intensified its attacks in mid-August, claiming to seize villages in Panjshir province, killing and capturing dozens of Taliban members (Hasht-e Subh, 15 August 2022; 16 August 2022). Following the clashes, Taliban forces continued to displace, arrest, torture, and kill civilians in Panjshir. NRF also shelled Taliban bases and conducted targeted attacks, including the killing of the Taliban’s intelligence director in Eshkamesh district of Takhar.
Separately, unidentified groups perpetrated multiple drone strikes in Afghanistan over the past month. One strike was reported near the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border in Takhar province. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Taliban forces, allegedly sheltering Tajik militants, may have been the target of the strike (Twitter @bsarwary, 2 September 2022). Two drone attacks were reported in Helmand province, including one in Washer district that reportedly targeted Al Qaeda members. Another strike in Nahr-i-Saraj district targeted a Taliban brigade base, killing 21 Taliban members. The Taliban’s military camp in Paktia province was also reportedly destroyed by a drone strike. The Taliban denied that the strikes in Paktia province and Nahr-i-Saraj district in Helmand province took place (Afghan Islamic Press News Agency, 9 September 2022). So far in 2022, ACLED records 19 air and drone strikes in Afghanistan, most of which were conducted by Pakistani military forces in the border areas or by the Taliban targeting the NRF. The majority of reported air and drone strikes recorded in August were directed at Taliban forces.
Meanwhile, IS targeted the Taliban and civilians with suicide bombings in Kabul and Herat cities. On 2 September, at least 18 civilians were killed and over two dozen were wounded during an attack by an IS suicide bomber inside a mosque in Herat. A pro-Taliban religious cleric was among those killed in the attack. The attack came less than a month after a similar IS suicide attack in August that killed another prominent cleric. In Kabul, an IS suicide bomber detonated an explosive at the Russian embassy gate as Afghan students queued to apply for visas. The explosion killed at least six people, including two Russian embassy workers. IS also conducted other remote bombings against the Taliban in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces.
Civilians also continued to be targeted by unidentified groups over the past month. In one of the deadliest attacks of the year, unknown attackers detonated a bomb inside a Kabul mosque during evening prayers on 17 August, reportedly killing 21 people.
Additionally, over the past month, the Taliban arbitrarily detained former security members and journalists and attacked women for not covering their hair or for traveling without male company. The alleged rape and forced marriage of a woman by a Taliban official triggered protests in Kabul and Parwan provinces. Women also continued to protest Taliban policies with demonstrations marking the first anniversary of the Taliban regime on 15 August. While most protests were held indoors, an outdoor protest in Kabul was met with the violent intervention of Taliban forces, leaving many protesting women and journalists injured.
In Pakistan, the TTP, Islamist and unidentified armed groups, and Baloch separatists conducted attacks against state forces and civilian targets across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces over the past month, while the killings of local political leaders were reported in Punjab.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the TTP clashed with Pakistani state forces, resulting in multiple reported fatalities. Despite the clashes, the ceasefire agreement between the TTP and Pakistani state forces continues to remain active (Dawn, 5 September 2022). While the TTP accuses the Pakistani government of violating the agreement, the latter claims that the TTP has increased its activity during the ceasefire (Al Jazeera, 6 September 2022). Meanwhile, IS militants clashed with security forces and used remote violence against both security forces and civilians, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) members. Unidentified armed groups also clashed with security forces and attacked civilian targets with grenades and remote explosives, resulting in multiple fatalities. In the same province, security forces launched operations against the TTP-Hafiz Gul Bahadur (TTP-HGB) in North Waziristan district, killing two militants.
In Balochistan, Baloch separatists clashed with state forces and continued to use grenades and remote explosives against both state forces and civilian targets during the past month. Multiple fatalities were reported across separate attacks involving Baloch separatist groups, including the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), in a number of districts.
In Punjab, unidentified armed groups targeted civilians during the past month, killing leaders of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in separate attacks. Meanwhile, a suspected anti-tank landmine exploded at a village bordering India and Pakistan in Narowal district, killing four children and injuring two others. These trends contribute to the 166% increase in weekly violent events in Punjab in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker. The Subnational Tracker also warned of increased violence in Punjab during the preceding four weeks.
In India, Islamist militants engaged in armed clashes with state forces and targeted civilians during attacks in J&K. Multiple fatalities were reported across separate attacks involving militant groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Al-Badr, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the Resistance Front (RF), the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), and the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGuH). Meanwhile, the military forces of India and Pakistan exchanged fire along the International Border (IB) in Jammu district. While no casualties were reported, the clash marks the first such incident since a ceasefire agreement was signed between the two sides on 25 February 2021 (The Hindu, 26 February 2021).
In the Red Corridor, Naxal-Maoist rebels clashed with security forces and continued to engage in civilian targeting. In Jharkhand state, rebels clashed with state forces, leading to the death of two Communist Party of India (Maoist) rebels. In Chhattisgarh, rebels killed civilians on suspicion of being police informers and looted rations meant for police personnel from a passenger bus.
In Sri Lanka, anti-government demonstration activity decreased over the past month following the arrests of protest leaders and the imposition of emergency measures. As the country continues to face food and fuel shortages, the United Nations (UN) has called for accountability and deeper institutional reforms (Office of The High Commissioner For Human Rights, 6 September 2022). Meanwhile, violent demonstrations were reported in Polonnaruwa district in North Central province where a group of inmates of the Polonnaruwa Senapura Rehabilitation Camp clashed with the security forces, demanding aid and food amid the economic crisis. At least two inmates were injured after they attempted to flee the facility and clashed with security personnel.
In Bangladesh, BNP members held nationwide demonstrations against increases in fuel prices and power cuts, among other issues during the past month. The BNP accuses the Bangladesh Awami League (AL)-led government of mismanaging the economy, leading to price hikes and growing inflation (Dhaka Tribune, 17 August 2022). Amid the demonstrations, clashes were reported between the BNP and members of AL, the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), and the Jubo League in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Barisal, and Rangpur divisions. BNP rallies also came under attack by supporters of the ruling government in a number of divisions. Amid the violence, a member of BNP’s youth wing – Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal (JJD) — was shot dead by police personnel in Narayanganj district. These trends contribute to the 39% increase in violent events in Bangladesh over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Conflict Change Map.
Meanwhile, in Chittagong division, a UPDF member was killed, and four others were injured in an armed clash between members of PCJSS and UPDF in Rangamati district over establishing political supremacy. The killing led to violent demonstrations by UPDF supporters who resorted to burning tires and blocking roads in the division.
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED.