Posted: 1 February 2023
Posted: 1 February 2023
During January, the Taliban was subject to increased asymmetrical attacks in Kandahar province, the birthplace of the group. The Afghanistan Freedom Front, an anti-Taliban group formed in March 2022,1VOA, 27 April 2022 claimed responsibility for multiple targeted IED attacks that left several Taliban members dead. Unidentified groups also carried out attacks, including a drone strike on 13 January which killed a Taliban commander. Such drone strikes have been rare since the Taliban takeover. The last drone strike was recorded in September 2022.
Heightened violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province continued in January, with a suicide bomber targeting police worshipping at a mosque at the end of the month. The blast, one of the deadliest in years, reportedly led to at least 100 fatalities, making January a particularly deadly month for the region.2Associated Press, 31 January 2023 A Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander initially claimed responsibility for the attack before a spokesperson refuted the claim.3Associated Press, 30 January 2023 The end in November of a ceasefire between the TTP and the government has led to an uptick in violence in the region. Government officials allege that the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has emboldened the group.4TRT World, 31 January 2023
The Myanmar military continued to carry out airstrikes in January in the run-up to the two-year anniversary of the military coup. The military has increasingly resorted to airstrikes as they fail to consolidate power, targeting resistance forces and civilians alike.5BBC, 31 January 2023 An airstrike on 12 January in Hpapun district in Kayin state led to the deaths of five civilians, including a two-year-old child. The military’s ongoing use of airstrikes has triggered concerns about the potential spillover effect on civilian populations in countries that share a border with Myanmar. Airstrikes on a resistance stronghold in Chin state reportedly resulted in a bomb falling inside the Indian state of Mizoram.
The fourth anniversary of the founding of BARMM was marked on 21 January. The region saw an uptick in violence driven by rido (blood feuds between clans), which is common in the region. These feuds often involve current or former members of the Moro National Liberation Front or its splinter group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In a clash on 24 January between two local factions of the MILF identified with rival clans, a member of the military was caught in the crossfire and killed while assisting families evacuating the area. Meanwhile, clashes were also reported between the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, an Islamist splinter group that formed over dissatisfaction with the MILF’s pursuance of peace talks with the Philippines government.
Violence in Thailand’s Deep South continued in January. A clash between state forces and Malay Muslim separatists in Narathiwat resulted in three separatist fatalities on 20 January. Following the change of government in Malaysia, a new Malaysian facilitator for peace talks has been appointed and is expected to be in Bangkok in early February.6Benarnews, 26 January 2023 A date for expected peace talks has not yet been announced. Peace talks between the Thai government and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani, the largest separatist group, have been held intermittently since 2020.
Violence in Jharkhand state increased as the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the largest Maoist group operating in the ‘Red Corridor,’ carried out a series of asymmetrical attacks in West Singhbhum. The violence comes after the Central Reserve Police Force established new forward operating bases in the region in November 2022.7The Hindu, 22 November 2023 Clashes were also reported between state forces and Maoist splinter groups, the People’s Liberation Front of India, and the Tritiya Prastuti Committee.
Elliott Bynum is ACLED’s Asia Pacific Regional Specialist. She has been with ACLED since September 2017, initially as a Myanmar researcher, then as the research manager for ACLED’s Southeast Asia desk. She also has held analysis and research coordinator positions at ACLED prior to her current role. Elliott has an MA in Social Justice and Human Rights from Arizona State University and a BA in International Affairs from the George Washington University. She previously worked as a researcher with local human rights organizations on the Thailand-Myanmar border and as a teacher in Myanmar. Her research focuses on political violence and protest in Myanmar.