Welcome back the the MilitaryGazette's SITREP! In this series, we try to keep you up to date on the latest security news and combat reports from around the world, trying to rely on local news agencies not well known in the wider world.
It's been a slow week, thankfully. Not slow enough, unfortunately.
Starting off this week, Spain has arrested two Syrian nationals, in separate incidents in Valencia and Alicante, on charges of "...belonging and collaborating with a terror organization as well as promoting acts of terror and indoctrination...". The men were apparently tracked down through instant message traffic, where they promoted and helped indoctrinate people to extremist Islamic beliefs.
Turning to the Donetsk region, the desultory war continues there, with a fresh surge of attacks on Ukrainian Government forces by Russian-backed rebels. The sudden spate of over a dozen attacks in the last week consisted of mostly engagements by heavy machine guns (likely venerable DShK's or newer Kord's), and 82mm mortars (possibly mobile raids using the 2B9 "Vasilek").
Video from NovorossaTV.com, November 2014
In the Russian Crimea, following the horrific school shooting in Kerch, a disturbing development has come to light. Several victims, who had either declined treatment at the scene, or had been treated at the scene and released, have returned to local hospitals in the aftermath, complaining of strange infections at the sites of their wounds. Russian Health Ministry officials have stated that the infections appear to be producing some kind of significant inflammation, and are believed to be related to the shrapnel injuries the victims received. However, there is no word at press time as to the source of the inflammation, and no word on a possible treatment regimen.
Elsewhere in Russia, secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev - speaking at a council meeting in Novosibirsk - warned of an increasing terror threat in Siberia, citing a near-70% rise in terror-related incidents in the massive region of the last nine months, even as the number of incidents in Russia overall had fallen by over 10% in the same time frame. Patrushev cited outmoded security equipment and procedures that needed to be addressed, as well as a manpower shortage, and highlighted the critical nature of the issue by recalling the large and significant oil and mineral assets in the region. This comes on the heels of officials at the US Pentagon calling Russia's warning of Islamic militant activity in Central Asia "propaganda" in May of this year.
In related news, the Russian FSB detained a Russian citizen and native Dagestani on charges of supporting Islamic terrorists. The suspect, one Medzhid Gabibulaevich Magomedov, stated that he had traveled to Ukraine earlier in the year, to meet with operatives from ISIL to plan attacks within Russia. Magomedov (who was reportedly in possession of a suppressed pistol and an improvised explosive device at the time of his arrest) also stated that Ukrainian intelligence services and the far-Right radical group "Right Sector" were actively aiding ISIL-linked terrorists in attempts to mount terrorist attacks inside Russia. Right Sector, an ultra-nationalist group little known outside of Ukraine, has been fairly described as a "marginal group", having had it's more radical armed paramilitary wings break away from the organization, reducing its footprint considerably in the last four years. At its height, the Associated Press could find no evidence that the group had engaged in 'hate crimes' at any level.
Moving to Africa, in the southernmost nation on the continent, information has developed that indicates ISIL involvement in the "Durban Bomb Plot" from May of this year. This involved the planting of numerous incendiary devices at shopping venues around the country, that thankfully failed to ignite. The plot, according to investigators, was masterminded by one Farhad Hoomer, and was aimed at an attempt to extort money from local businesses in order to fund future operations.
This demonstrates that while ISIL may have functionally lost its base areas in Syria and Iraq, it is by no means dead.
Meanwhile, farther up the Indian Ocean coast in seemingly perpetually war-torn Somalia, US AFRICOM reported that it had killed two terrorists from the Al Shabaab group in an airstrike, in cooperation with the Somali government.
Additionally, inter-tribal/clan warfare has broken out, once again, in Somalia's northern regions. The death toll is currently at 40-50, and expected to rise. While there is no current indication of Islamist involvement, from Al Shabaab or any other group, this could easily weaken the tenuous hold the Mogadishu government has over the region, and could easily result in one or more Islamist groups establishing another base region in the area.
Across the continent, in Cameroon, fighting has again broken out between the Yaoundé government forces and those of the so-called "Ambazonian Defense Forces" in the country's breakaway region in the extreme west, on its border with Nigeria. The current situation, known as the "Ambazonian Crisis", stems from unrest in Cameroon's English-speaking regions, related to the insistence of the Yaoundé government on refusing to publish official documents in English as well as French in the bilingual region (a situation similar to Canada's Quebec Province). Formal protests, filed within the context of the Cameroonian court system, were met with police crackdowns on protests and the arrests of lawyers and other protesters. This resulted in a declaration of independence by a body of lawyers and teachers in the region, who formed a temporary government. Cameroon's response was a declaration of war on the separatists in December of 2017, and the launching of a subsequent guerilla war.
The United Nations, which had originally ordered mediation of the dispute as far back as the 1960's, has rather predictably chosen to ignore it's failure to implement its own resolutions on the subject, and to claim only that a humanitarian crisis exists, and might require a U.N. response.
The equally-predictable result has been an increasing spiral of violence, as the Yaoundé government refuses to give up an area that generates up to 60% of its revenue, and the Ambazonian separatists are being given a glimmer of hope that the United Nations will intervene and grant the area de facto independence.
In a sad - but typical, of late - story, Libya's vaunted historical sites are now at risk. Unlike the sites of Iraq and Syria, however, this threat is far more mundane, even petty: locals who decided that their desires of the moment trumped the legacy of humankind, took a badly-conceived 2013 law promulgated by the nominal government in Tripoli in the aftermath of the death of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi to heart, and have begun moving in on UNESCO World Heritage sites. Only the ruins of the Roman city of Leptis Magna and the prehistoric rock carvings in the Acacus Mountains, deep in the Sahara, have escaped significant damage, the former through locals who understand their responsibilities, and in the case of the latter, its extreme remoteness. Other sites, such as the Greco-Roman city of Cyrene, are being staked out by locals as residences. The damage to these sites will prove to be staggering in scale.
Finally for Africa, Egyptian security forces reportedly killed at least 11 militants at a training camp in the Western Desert region of Upper Egypt on the 24th. Five explosive belts, four automatic weapons, three guns and several maps were reported seized in the raid.
This comes as a report by the Egyptian Government reported that security forces had killed over 450 terrorists to date this year, in their ongoing operation to wipe out the terrorist infrastructure in the Sinai region, that has been a perennial problem since 2011.
Once again, the sheer volume of news bits coming from the war-torn region of the Levant is too large to more than summarize, as ISIL-aligned terrorists once again fired rockets into southern Israel, while continued unrest in Gaza and the West Bank, resulted in yet more dead and wounded in the continuous conflict in Israel/Palestine.
Meanwhile, it appears once again that terrorists backed by Turkey can't even oppress civilians without fighting among themselves. Nations used to be better at controlling their tools. Then again, this kind of thing seems to be the way of the 21st Century.
Turning to Afghanistan, America's longest war reportedly killed dozens of Taliban fighters in a series of joint attacks and air raids around the country this week...no doubt helped by Taliban mine planters blowing themselves up...Sometimes, you have to find humor where you can.
Multiple terrorist incidents continue throughout the country, as security forces killed or captured several gunmen in separate incidents. However, security forces did not escape unscathed, as two security force policemen were wounded by a command-detonated mine in North Waziristan. Also in Waziristan, three oil company workers of the Maripur Oil and Gas Company and their security escort from Pakistan's Frontier Corps (FC) paramilitary gendarmerie were kidnapped and subsequently murdered by unidentified gunmen in North Waziristan. Pakistani police are at a loss over the incident, as no group has claimed responsibility for the brutal attack, and robbery or kidnap-for-ransom does not seem to be a motive.
India's long-running security nightmare in Kashmir, rivaling the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in length, continues to boil, as multiple ambushes, firefights and harassment attacks continued throughout the region this week, with all sides taking casualties.
In Central India, meanwhile, security forces issued alerts after receiving credible threats that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) - the group responsible for the bloody assault on Mumbai in 2008 - planned a series of attacks on train stations and religious shrines (specifically, the famous Mahakal Temple at Ujjain) along the railway between Bhopal and Gwalior, supposedly scheduled for November 9th of this year. Anyone traveling in the region on that date is strongly encouraged to pay close attention to their personal security.
Along the "Red Corridor" in India's East, the long-running Naxalite insurgency continues to simmer, as local police made several arrests of Maoist cadres across the region. A junior Constable of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was wounded by an IED in Chhattisgarh's insurgency-hit Sukma district on Thursday. Tragically, also on Thursday, Communist rebels savagely hacked a villager to death in the Malkangiri district of Odisha, believing him to be a police informer.
Finally, this week, we turn to the Philippines, as the Philippine Marines and Abu Sayyaf terrorists engaged in a ferocious firefight in the country's southern Sulu Province, killing three Marines and one terrorist, as 6 more pro-ISIL terrorists surrendered to local officials in Lanao del Sur. Meanwhile, in a separate incident on nearby Mindanao, some 16 New Peoples Army Communist rebels surrendered to the Philippine Army's 102nd Infantry Brigade (of the 1st Division) near Zamboanga. Nearby, in landlocked Bukidnon, elements of the Philippine Army's 65th Infantry Battalion (of the 9th Division) killed a New Peoples Army cadre following a 40 minute-long firefight. No other casualties were reported.
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