We're starting this SITREP a bit out of order, given the developing situation in India's Assam and Nagaland states, where the historic city of Imphal remains under siege...
In northern India, the Radical Islamic terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba - the group that carried out the savage November, 2008 Mumbai attacks - claimed responsibility for a raid on a road construction camp in the long-disputed Jammu and Kashmir region, killing what Indian authorities described as "casual laborers".
In central India, police in the town of Satwas, in Madhya Pradesh state, arrested six people in a massive manhunt, following the theft of some 2,600 sticks of gelignite (a mining explosive similar to, but far safer than, dynamite), and 3,900 detonators from an explosives storehouse.
In the Red Corridor, meanwhile, Communist guerillas engaged in several gun battles with security forces in Chhattisgarh state (mostly coming out on the losing side), while as many as five policemen were injured by a Naxalite IED in Jharkhand. In the state of Odisha, Naxals kidnapped five local government officials and a civilian.
Government forces in Assam and Nagaland have been attempting to get ahead of the apparently-forthcoming offensive by the ASOM and NSCN groups in March, arresting four NSCN militants one day before an NSCN attack on a truck convoy trying to break the group's month-long blockade of the supply routes to the city of Imphal killed one and wounded three on Friday. In a separate incident, India's Assam Rifles reportedly captured a pair of senior cadre personnel of the People's Liberation Army of Manipur near Imphal.
Nearly two hundred assorted Radical Islamist terrorists were killed in heavy fighting around the country, as the ISIL cadre in eastern Afghanistan reportedly kidnapped thirteen Islamic religious scholars who were in the process of overseeing examinations at a religious school, as their comrades in the Bati Kot District of Nangarhar Province burned at least sixty homes of families who had fled the fighting.
In what may mark the beginning of a resumption of 2016's wave of "robo-bomb threats", a rash of bomb threats occurred this week, several, including in Fayette County, Ohio. Whether this is some bizarre security test, a terrorist group scouting response protocols, or the product of some deranged, twisted mind, remains to be seen.
Protests against the Mexican government's sudden decision to hike gas prices as much as 20% continued across the country this week. While most of the protests were peaceful, riots impacted nearly four hundred banks, forcing nearly three hundred of them to close. As well, operations were disrupted at the Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) stamping and assembly plant in Hermosillo, Sonora, while nearly one-thousand rolling stock freight cars were delayed. Other protests outside fuel distribution centers in the neighboring state of Baja caused temporary shortages at many gas stations. In the city of Rosarito Beach, near Tijuana, seven police officers manning a security line were injured when a lone protestor rammed his vehicle into the police line. This comes amid a weakening Peso and the trimming back of American corporate investment in the country in the wake of Donald Trump's impending inauguration, representing a potentially serious security issue for the United States.
The Colombian government and its long-time enemy, the Marxist-Leninist FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia | Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerilla's, are proceeding with the peace process to end Colombia's long-running civil war, after making at least fifty changes to a peace plan overwhelmingly rejected by Colombian voters in October of 2016; notably, the voting public was not consulted on this version of the peace deal.
Further strengthening suspicions that the robo-call bomb hoax wave may be starting again, a total of four schools in these two European nations were evacuated after receiving automated calls warning of explosive devices. As MilitaryGazette noted previously, these are most likely either a type of unscheduled security procedures test, or are examples of terrorist groups checking local response times and procedures.
Meanwhile, Germany and Sweden saw a rash of "white powder" deliveries this week. In Sweden, investigative journalist Janne Josefsson, of the SVT media group in Gothenburg, was reportedly targeted with an envelope containing a threatening letter and a quantity of white powder.
In Germany, at least seven courthouses, including the country's Federal Constitutional Court ('Bundesverfassungsgericht') in Karlsruhe, also received envelopes containing unknown white powders, forcing evacuations, shutdowns, temporary quarantines and medical examinations of staff.
"White powder attack hoaxes" have become a popular method of creating chaos and panic in recent years, as a result of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks in the United States. In its refined state, it is impossible to visually distinguish actual, "weaponized" anthrax from inert powders like talcum. Given the very real dangers of actual anthrax outbreaks, emergency responders have no choice but to deploy the maximum effort every time one of these vicious hoaxes occur.
Tensions in this West African state continue to simmer, as the election-mandated handover of power, from long-time dictator Yahya Jammeh to incoming President Adama Barrow scheduled for January 19th remains in doubt. Jammeh (who seized power in a military coup in 1994) disputes the election results. Regional bloc ECOWAS has flatly refused to continue to recognize Jammeh's government beyond the 19th, an action Jammeh has described as an "act of war". This comes amid reports that regional power Nigeria [see below] is preparing a "ready force" of 800 men to intervene in Gambia, should Jammeh refuse to yield power. Barrow has been advised to wait in neighboring Senegal until time for his inauguration, for his own safety.
In Mali, five soldiers were killed and three more wounded when their vehicle triggered an IED, while on the road between Diafarabe and Macina. Although no group has claimed responsibility, Malian officials are convinced that terrorists loyal to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are responsible.
This comes as Malian police arrested Mimi Ould Baba Ould El Mokhtar -- the alleged mastermind of the deadly "Grand Bassam Attack", in March of 2016, on a resort in neighboring Côte d'Ivoire -- in the town of Gossi, in northern Mali.
In the country's oil-rich -- and highly restive -- southeastern region, general unrest and violence by the "Niger Delta Avengers" and "Concerned Militant Leaders (CML)" militant groups (complaining of maltreatment by the government in Abuja) threatens to continue disruptions to oil production in the region, with militant attacks on riverine patrol boats based near Onitsha reportedly killing as many as eight Nigerian soldiers, while the Nigerian Air Force launched an airstrike to destroy an illegal oil storage facility in the coastal Rivers State. Opposition leaders have also reportedly been arrested.
Given the history of the southeast, the rising tensions in the area are an issue that Abuja can ill-afford to handle ham-handedly.
In the hard-hit northern state of Borno, troops of the Nigerian Army's 22nd Brigade, part of the 7th Division while taking part n "Operation Lafiya Dole" killed at least thirteen suspected Boko Haram terrorists, arresting another half-dozen, while capturing enemy stockpiles of food, weapon and vehicles, and rescuing as many as sixty women and children held captive by the terrorists.
Interestingly, Army Chief of Staff Tukur Buratai, has denied reports that a "white man" was captured during operations in the nearby Sambisa Forest, but that one person described as having "very light skin" was killed during a firefight with terrorists.
Police arrested a Kenyan woman, Feruz Abubakar (the wife of the main suspect behind the 2014 attack on the Reef hotel) in the port city of Mombasa on the 9th, carrying detonators, explosive boosters, eight mobile phones and several sim cards.
The United States warned its citizens to steer clear of the Kenyan-Somali border on the 13th, as AFRICOM confirmed airstrikes against Al-Shabaab terrorists near the southern port city of Kismayo on January 7th. This comes as the terror group has reportedly begun executing anyone deemed guilty of homosexuality.
In some good news for Egyptian troops and police dealing with the on-going insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, Army troops killed ten terrorists during a raid on a hideout in the city of El Arish. One policeman was wounded.
This comes in the aftermath of twelve policemen and one civilian being killed in two separate attacks during the week, in a VBIED attack on a checkpoint, and during an attack on a police station.
ISIL terrorist fighters launched desperate local counterattacks throughout the week, including using suicide bombers in the north of the country, gaining some minor ground near Damascus, and cutting the road to the city of Deir Ezzor.
And, ever ready to display what shining examples of humanity they can be (/sarcasm), ISIL took time out of its busy week to crucify two men accused of supporting Kurdish YPG forces and to reportedly waste valuable demolition explosives to mine yet more of Humankind's heritage for destruction in the ravaged city of Palmyra, while murdering yet more civilians in and around Baghdad.
Heavy fighting continued to rage Wednesday near the strategic Red Sea town of Bab al-Mandab in western Yemen, as the multi-sided civil war - fueled by Iranian and Saudi Arabian intervention - in this strategically important country continues. Dozens of government and Houthi troops, as well as an unknown number of civilians, were killed in multiple actions across the small country, as a pair of Saudi bases along the border were reportedly heavily damaged by artillery raids.
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