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KHAR: The incidence of terrorist attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas has increased by 72 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the last quarter of 2016, said a Fata Research Centre report issued here on Thursday.

According to the report, a total of 69 terrorist incidents took place during the last quarter of 2016 i.e. from October to December, while 119 such incidents were recorded in the first quarter of 2017 i.e. from January to March. Of these incidents, 57 were terrorist attacks and 62 related to counter-terrorism actions conducted by law-enforcement agencies.

Similarly, 54 percent of the terrorist attacks targeted civilians, while 42 percent were carried out against security forces. Four percent of the terrorist attacks targeted members of the peace committees (Aman Lashkars) in different parts of tribal areas.

The report said there was an increase in terms of casualties during the first quarter of 2017 in which 491 casualties were reported compared to 180 casualties during the last quarter of 2016. The casualties included 281 deaths and 210 injured.

The report said 50 percent of the total casualties during the first quarters of current year were of civilians, 37 percent of terrorists, 11 percent of security forces, and two percent of members of peace committees. It added that in terms of casualties, Kurram Agency remained the most volatile agency of Fata during the first quarter of 2017. The report said in total, 212 casualties were reported in different areas of the agency.

Khyber Agency, where military operations are going on, follows the list with 119 casualties. Mohmand Agency remained third in the list with 66 casualties (48 people killed and 18 injured).

Bajaur and South Waziristan agencies also remained troubled during the first quarter of 2017 with 13 people killed and 19 injured and 17 killed and six injured respectively. North Waziristan Agency witnessed a calmer period during the first quarters of 2017as terrorist incidents and the resultant casualties decreased compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

The Mehsud Taliban of the TTP, TTP-Jamaatul Ahrar remained the dominant terrorist groups during the first quarter 2017, while the preferred mode of terrorists was the use of improvised explosive device.

According to the report, 27 IED attacks, 15 incidents of target killings, 10 ambushes, three cross-border attacks and two suicide blasts occurred during the first quarter of 2017.

Irfanuddin, security analyst at the Fata Research Centre, said the surge in violent incidents and resultant casualties in Fata showed that the terrorist outfits were regaining their operational capacity for carrying out their activities across Fata.

“Although terrorist networks have largely been dismantled in recent military operations in Fata, the regrouping of Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan and the reunion of Khan Said group with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan are the two major factors, which have allowed the local militants to increase terrorist activities in Fata and rest of the country, too,” he said.

The analyst said the terrorists belonging to Khan Said group and TTP- Jamaatul Ahrar were already conducting terrorist activities in Fata but their merger had strengthen them to carry out coordinated and large-scale attacks not only inside tribal areas but also in other parts of the country.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2017