Asia/Africa update: June 22 2017



A car bomb killed at least 34 people on Thursday outside a bank in the city of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province. The Taliban took credit for the attack, though the location indicated as much anyway. One of the Taliban’s favorite tactics in recent months has been to attack banks on payday, when they can maximize the number of casualties and the disruption they cause the local economy.


It’s been a while since we’ve seen any large-scale incidents in Kashmir, but instead the province has been subject to a daily drip of violence–two people killed yesterday, one today, maybe three or four tomorrow–that individually may not raise eyebrows but collectively suggest that the situation is careening in a very bad direction. Four more people were killed today:

Government forces killed three suspected Kashmiri rebels in fighting in the disputed region Thursday and fatally shot a rock-throwing protester during an ensuing rally demanding an end to Indian rule, officials said.

The militants were killed following a nightlong exchange of gunfire after police and soldiers cordoned off southern Kakpora village, said army spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia. An Indian army officer was wounded.

Residents said troops used explosives to target the house the militants were firing from and set it on fire. Police recovered the charred bodies of the three militants.


The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia made a deal Thursday to collaborate in counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism efforts. The battle against ISIS-aligned insurgents in Marawi, which appears to be nearing an end but has already lasted over a month, has raised fears beyond the Philippines about the strength of local ISIS-affiliated groups and the possibility that the central ISIS organization might focus its attention on the region as it loses its footholds in the Middle East. As part of the agreement the three countries will share intelligence and conduct joint naval patrols to stop the movement of fighters from one country to another.


Myanmar security forces say they found and destroyed a Rohingya insurgent camp in the northwestern part of the country this week, killing three people in the process. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, formerly known as Harakat al-Yaqin, is active in Rakhine state, though fears that it might ally with an international organization like ISIS have so far not come to pass. Myanmar could probably end any Rohingya insurgency, or at least deal it a significant blow, if it stopped trying to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya from Rakhine, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards so I guess they’ll just keep doing these raids instead.


US officials said on Thursday that they believe North Korea has carried out another rocket engine test as part of its intercontinental ballistic missile program.

New South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is seen as more pro-China and less pro-US than his predecessors, nevertheless seems to be echoing the Trump administration when it comes to China and North Korea:

“I believe China is making efforts to stop North Korea from making additional provocations, yet there are no tangible results as of yet,” Moon told Reuters at the sprawling Blue House presidential compound.

“China is North Korea’s only ally and China is the country that provides the most economic assistance to North Korea,” Moon said. “Without the assistance of China, sanctions won’t be effective at all.”

Moon called for “strong” sanctions if North Korea should conduct another nuclear test or test a completed ICBM, though realistically either of those may be red lines for military action by the Trump administration.

38 North has compiled a report, based on the best available data, on North Korea’s external relationships, including trade relationships and the movement of its citizens. The data isn’t perfect and it’s probably not comprehensive, since it’s being pieced together from multiple sources in the absence of a publicly available North Korean repository of this kind of information, but if you’re like me and you wonder how vulnerable the North Korean economy could possibly be to international pressure after years or decades of isolation, then this might help answer some of your questions.



Burkina Faso plans to spend $700 million over the next four years to improve infrastructure and security in the impoverished northern part of the country, in an effort to keep young people there from joining extremist groups like the al-Qaeda-aligned Ansarul Islam.


An al-Shabab car bomb targeting a police station killed at least seven people (al-Shabab claims it killed 11) in Mogadishu on Thursday.


Fighting between DRC government forces and a new paramilitary coalition in the northeastern city of Beni killed at least 12 people on Thursday. The eastern DRC is home to countless armed militias, many of whom feed off of the minerals trade, but the National Movement of Revolutionaries seems to be a recent creation that may be connected to a massive prison break that took place at Beni’s prison earlier this month.

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