The Blockade of Imphal Continues
The low-intensity siege and blockade of Imphal is on target to pass its 90-day mark. The siege, begun by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) on November 1, 2016 to protest a redistricting plan, has seriously disrupted deliveries of fuel and consumer goods to the capital of Manipur State, including medical supplies. While police and paramilitary units continue to escort convoys along the two highways into the city, delays caused by barricades made of burning cars are frequent, and take time to clear; violence - including sniper attacks - are frequent.
The economic disruption, as well as the mental and physical exhaustion among security force personnel, is draining both local and Central Government resources in an area that had seen only relatively low-level disturbances for some time. The situation is extremely dangerous, as both the NSCN and its allies - the United Liberation Front of Assam (ASOM), the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), the National Liberation Front of Twipra (NLFT) and the People's Democratic Council of Karbi-Longri (PDCK) - issued a warning on January 3, 2017, vowing sectarian and ethnic violence in neighboring Tripura and Assam following a March 31, 2017 deadline. As MilitaryGazette reported in December of 2016, the NSCN and other rebel groups had already begun recruiting medical personnel, prior to the January 3 announcement.
The question at hand is, does the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi understand the implications of the Manipur siege, and its virtually-certain relationship to the pending offensive in Assam and nearby areas, the prelude of which may have been heralded on the 26th by a wave of IED attacks in Assam.
The Red Corridor was busy, as Maoist-Naxalite guerillas destroyed at least fifteen construction vehicles and other construction equipment in separate arson attacks in Bijapur. In Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Sukma district, a father and son were injured by an IED while traveling along an under-construction road near the village of Malempalli. This comes in the wake of a January 18th incident that killed two women and a young girl, while injuring four others. In Jharkhand, meanwhile, police - acting on a tip - raided a house in the Chalho area, and uncovered a bomb factory, seizing nearly two dozen completed devices, and large amounts of explosive material. The Naxals operating the factory were apparently tipped off, and escaped ahead of the police raid.
In Jammu & Kashmir, the Rashtriya Rifles, the Border Security Force and local police units stopped several infiltration attempts along the Line of Control, while killing a half-dozen terrorist infiltrators and arresting two suspects; one police officer was wounded, and several terrorists fled following a firefight with police.
Fighting raged across the country, as upwards of one hundred ISIL and Taliban fighters were reported killed in clashes with Afghan security forces. Additionally, reports are increasing of foreign fighters appearing amid local ISIL ranks, indicating that some of the terror groups survivors are leaving the Syria-Iraq theater of operations, and are transferring to Afghanistan.
Among the now-normal news of the grind against the so-called "Islamic State" continues in the Levant, including ISIL and al-Nusra Front forces pulling out of positions near the Syrian capital of Damascus, and Syrian and Turkish and Kurdish forces hammering terrorist formations across the battlespace, ISIL forces are being slowly pushed out of Mosul, comes word of the discovery by Iraqi special forces of a stockpile of chemical weapons, specifically mustard gas, discovered in a suspected ISIL production facility. This comes following the discovery of another war-gas production facility housed in a ruined dormitory of Mosul University earlier in January. From the video under the RT link (see 'Source 1', below), it appears that the
While war gases are not the most militarily useful of weapons, the one thing they universally excel at is instilling a deep sense of terror and loathing in anyone facing them, who knows anything about them. Fortunately, terrorist delivery systems are extremely crude, and ill-suited to their technical base...For the moment, at least.
The desultory fighting of the "non-ceasefire" in the Donbass region continued this week, with dozens of violations ranging from sniper, machine gun and mortar attacks, to the use of tanks and artillery.
In a major battle in Somalia, upwards of seventy Kenyan soldiers were killed when their company base near the border town of Kulbiyow, Lower Jubba, Somalia was overrun by al-Shabaab terrorists. The terrorists appear to have rammed a VBIED to breach the perimeter, then swarmed into the camp. Al-Shabaab held the camp for a short time, then withdrew.
Aside from the similarities to last year's attack on another Kenyan post at the town of El Adde, one disturbing feature of this attack has been the accusations of an attempted cover-up by Kenyan authorities. However, what appears to be a cover-up now appears to simply be confused real-time communications amid a fluid, high-stress situation, and caution among government officials not to overplay the attack until they knew more.
Not that this promotes confidence among the public in the government's ongoing participation in AMISOM.
In Egypt, security forces made serious progress against militants operating in the Sinai Peninsula in a push this week, killing at least twenty, and capturing thirty-six, for the loss of four soldiers.
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