KP, Balochistan marred by violence in first quarter of 2024

By
Rasheed Khalid
Pakistan Army commandos depart in their vehicles in Rawalpindi on September 13, 2021. — AFP
Pakistan Army commandos depart in their vehicles in Rawalpindi on September 13, 2021. — AFP
  • 92% total fatalities, 86% attacks affected KP, Balochistan.
  • Pakistan saw 432 violence-linked fatalities, 370 injuries.
  • Violence in Punjab, GB reduced by 85% and 65%.

ISLAMABAD: At least 92% of all fatalities and 86% of attacks, including those related to terrorism and security forces operations, were recorded in the Khyber Pakhtun­khwa and Balochistan provinces in the first quarter of 2024.

These key findings were revealed in the Q1 2024 Security Report issued by Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), detailing that the country witnessed at least 432 violence-linked fatalities and 370 injuries among civilians, security personnel and outlaws resulting from as many as 245 incidents of terror attacks and counter-terror operations.

Among the 432 fatalities, 281 included that of civilians and security forces personnel.

The KP and Balochistan province alone have accounted for 51% and 41% of the total fatalities in Q1, 2024, respectively. The data indicates that the remaining regions were relatively peaceful, suffering less than 8% of all deaths.

In addition to the casualties related to terrorism and counter-terrorism, 64 incidents of sabotage in the country, targeting properties of the government, politicians, private properties, and security properties were also recorded.

Percentage surged in violence, with the number of fatalities jumping to 178 from 91 in October to December — the fourth quarter of 2023. The Sindh province also saw a nearly 47% rise in violence, however, the number of fatalities was very low.

Meanwhile, KP, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) recorded an encouraging decrease in violence by 24%, 85% and 65% respectively, the report revealed. Despite a notable decrease in violence observed in GB during the period, the GB Home Minister Shamsul Haq Lone issued a terror threat alert on March 31, 2024, regarding the possibility of attacks by the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The alert came in response to a recent suicide attack on a convoy of Chinese engineers — who were working on Dasu Dam project — in the Shangla district of KP. The attack claimed the lives of five Chinese nationals and a local driver. It is also worth noting that last year, GB had suffered the highest number of fatalities in a decade, with 17 lives lost.

In Q1 2024, civilians and security forces personnel suffered over 65% (281) of all fatalities in nearly 200 terror attacks, compared to outlaws suffering only 35% (151) in around 48 counter-terror operations.

The attacks on security officials and civilians outnumbered the security operations conducted against the outlaws, by almost fourfold. Moreover, civilians bore the heaviest brunt of violence suffering 154 fatalities (36%) which is more than any other category of victims and thus emerging as primary victims of violence in this period.

Compared to last quarter (Q4 2023), the fatalities of civilians and security officials combined surged by 17%, whereas the fatalities of outlaws, militants and insurgents combined decreased by almost 15% in the first quarter of 2024. Individually, there was a significant increase in the number of insurgents’ fatalities, by 215%, a decrease of approximately 33% in militants’ fatalities.

Interestingly, militant organisations claimed responsibility for less than 20% of the total casualties attributed to terrorism in Q1 2024. Surprisingly, certain terrorist outfits such as Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), Lashkar-e-Islami (LI), and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) which were highly active the previous year, have abstained from claiming any acts of terrorism in this quarter.

Only the TTP and Daesh took responsibility for some attack, while a new militant group Jabhat Ansar al-Mahdi Khorasan (JAMK), affiliated with the Gul Bahadur group, emerged in Q1 2024, the report said. Although the TTP claimed responsibility for only three terror attacks in Pakistan in this quarter, resulting in four fatalities, an unclaimed terror incident occurred in North Waziristan on March 16, 2024, led to the tragic loss of seven security officials, including a Lt Colonel and a Captain.

The insurgent groups, BLA, BLF, BRAS and SRA claimed responsibility for 18 attacks (three times more than the claims of the militant groups) this quarter causing 42 fatalities and 40 injuries. The prime targets of the insurgent groups were the security and government installations including Gwadar Port Complex, Mach Jail and Turbat Naval Base.