AFGHANISTAN: ISIS attack in Kabul kills 80, mostly Hazara
An attack in Kabul claimed by ISIS kills 80 people. 230 more were injured after two bombs went off, targeting the Hazara minority (of Shiite denomination), during a protest that brought together many people belonging to this minority. Two men set off belts with explosives despite the high security deployed in the Afghan capital, which they were able to avoid. This is the worst attack on the Hazara minority in Kabul since 2011, when 55 people were killed after an attack claimed by the Pakistani armed opposition group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has carried out many attacks on this minority in the neighbouring country, defending the precepts of the Shiites. This was the first attack carried out by ISIS in the Afghan capital and was orchestrated by a commander of this organisation from the province of Nangarhar. The attack was condemned by the Taleban insurgency, assuring they had no links to the attack. There is a strong rivalry between the Taleban insurgency and ISIS, and there have been clashes in Nangarhar and in other Afghan provinces. The Hazara demonstration was calling for the power line crossing from Turkmenistan to Kabul to go through the Bamyan and Wardak provinces, where a large Hazara population lives. (Reuters, 24/7/16; BBC, 23/7/16)
ARMENIA: Tension mounts after armed men linked to an opposition movement seize a police station and demand the resignation of the Armenian president
Tension in the country rose following the siege and takeover of a police station by a group of armed men linked to the opposition movement Founding Parliament in mid-July. A police officer was killed when the police station was stormed and the assailants took several hostages. The armed men demanded the resignation of President Serzh Sarkisian and the release of the leader of the movement and Nagorno-Karabakh war veteran Jirair Serfilian. Serfilian had been arrested in late June along with six other people accused of possessing weapons, and days before his arrest he had announced his intention to create a new movement, National Resistance, to try to overthrow the government with the Armenian Army’s support. The group is also said to be unhappy with management of the negotiations over the unresolved conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, denouncing alleged concessions to Azerbaijan. The occupation of the police station continued during the second half of July, with tense episodes in the buildings and the streets. Demonstrations were staged in support of the assailants, with some incidents reported between the police and demonstrators. The assailants released the hostages after negotiations with the authorities. Finally, following the government’s ultimatum threatening to conduct a large-scale assault, the group surrendered on 31 July. The security forces reported the arrest of 20 people. According to the authorities, 75 people were wounded in the demonstrations between 29 and 30 July. (Reuters, RFEL/RL, 17-31/07/16)
BANGLADESH: 29 killed, mostly foreigners, in an ISIS attack on a café in Dhaka
An attack claimed by ISIS on a café in Dhaka, the country’s capital, kills at least 23 people, two of whom police officers, and the rest foreigners. Also, the Bangladeshi security forces declared that they had shot six assailants. A group of armed men stormed the café, which was very popular among foreigners, and took those inside hostage, to later free those who could repeat the Koran. Most of those killed were stabbed to death. The security forces launched an operation after the taking of hostages. The café was located in an area with a strong presence of security forces given the proximity of a number of embassies, meaning the assailants had to go through several security checks before reaching the place of the attacks. Bangladeshi authorities, who deny that ISIS is present in the country, pointed to the group Jamaeytul Mujahdeen Bangladesh (JMB), which according to the authorities has no ties to ISIS, but which has joined this organisation. The group JMB is one of the main insurgencies operating in the country. In late July, nine armed men were killed during an
ETHIOPIA: Tension is on the rise in different parts of the country
There was a rise in tension, serious confrontations and protests in the Amhara, Oromo and Ogaden regions. A Government decision to try to arrest the leader of the Wolkayit community (Tigray region) in the town of Gondar (northwest) triggered the disturbances. The Wolkayit community wanted the Wolkayit district, which was transferred to the Tigray region in 1994, to become part of the Amhara region. Between July 12 and 14 about 20 people, including soldiers, security forces and civilians, were killed when Ethiopian soldiers attempted to arrest the leader of the Wolkayit Committee in Gondar, Col. Demeka Zewdu, together with other members of the Committee. He was accused of murder, kidnapping and collaboration with Eritrea. The government’s decision sparked protests in the neighbouring Amhara region. Sporadic outbreaks of violence were also reported in Oromia, where the armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) stated that it had launched new attacks on July 17 against Ethiopian security forces. This was in addition to operations carried out on June 20, 21 and 23, in which 27 soldiers were allegedly killed in the areas of El Kere, Goro and Haro Dibe. Protests and outbreaks of violence mainly targeted the Tigray community, which despite being a minority, controls the Government and the Armed Forces. The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) is the party at the core of the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), with the coalition favouring the Tigray community to the detriment of the rest. (East African, Allafrica, 14/07/16; DW, 15/07/16)
INDIA (JAMMU & KASHMIR): Killing of an insurgent by armed forces leads to a wave of riots in the State
The killing of insurgent Burhan Wani, a member of the armed opposition group Hizbul Mujahideen, after his hideout was besieged by the Indian security forces, led to a wave of riots in the region. As a consequence of these riots, at least 30 people died –mostly demonstrators – and 200 were injured. Wani, who was 22 years old, was considered one of the most influential insurgents among young Kashmiris due to his activity on social networks and was credited with strengthening his armed organisation in recent months –surpassing other organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba– and improving the image of insurgency among the population. Thousands attended his funeral, and funeral tributes were paid to him in other places around the province. Following the riots that erupted after his killing, local authorities declared curfews in many places. The operation led by the Armed Forces in which Wani died, as well as other insurgents, came after someone revealed their hideout. The Armed Forces bombed the house where they were hiding. (BBC, 11/07/16)
IRAQ: ISIS claims responsibility for the worst suicide attack in Baghdad since 2003, with over 320 people dead
The worst attack in Baghdad since Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003, a car bombing by the ISIS armed group, claimed the lives of at least 324 people. At the end of July, authorities warned that the death toll could continue to climb because the forensic teams were still identifying the victims. The bomb went off on a busy commercial street in the predominantly Shiite Karrada district of central Baghdad and it took place as the armed group was losing ground in an offensive by Iraqi troops backed by an international coalition led by the United States. After the bloody attack, the Iraqi authorities decided to speed up the execution of those charged with acts of terrorism, which prompted the UN to issue a warning. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, said that there was a serious risk that fast-tracking the process could result in acts of vengeance rather than justice and it could end the lives of innocent people. In this sense, the diplomat underscored the weaknesses of the Iraqi justice system, which together with the serious climate of tension and conflict in the country could lead to the irreversible conviction of many people. According to press reports, in 2016 alone 45 people have been put to death and another 1,200 are awaiting execution. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed to take back Mosul, the country's second city and under ISIS’s control since June 2014. The announcement prompted thousands of people to flee the area before the government's offensive began. According to UNHCR, more than 55,000 people had fled from the village of al-Shirqat, south of Mosul. In late July ISIS also launched attacks on oil and gas facilities in Kirkuk. (Reuters, 31/07/16 y 01/08/16; AFP, 31/07/16)
KENYA: Violence and attacks by al-Shabaab are on the rise in the border area and on the coast
During the month, the Somali Islamist armed group al-Shabaab and its militants in Kenya have increased their attacks and armed violence in the Somali-Kenya border area and in the coastal zone of the country. Several people were wounded and a total of 12 civilians, members of the security forces and combatants died, mainly in the counties of Lamu, Mandera and in the city of Mombasa. The United States has warned its citizens to avoid traveling to the border area between Kenya and Somalia. The Mandera County commissioner indicated that al-Shabaab and its units in Kenya have infiltrated the county's urban centres and any movement by Kenyan security forces is reported to the armed group. (Daily Nation, 02, 13 y 14/07/16; Reuters, 15/07/16)
LEBANON: Syrian nationals are identified as responsible for suicide attacks and hostile actions against the refugee population intensify
Press reports indicated that the Lebanese Interior Ministry had identified eight of the perpetrators of suicide bombings at the end of June in the predominantly Christian town of al-Qaa (or al-Kaa) as being Syrian nationals. The ISIS armed group was suspected of being behind the offensive, according to the initial investigations, since the majority of the attackers were from the Syrian city of Raqqa, which is under the jihadist organization’s control. The attacks caused five deaths in al-Qaa in northeastern Lebanon - just five kilometres from the border with Syria - and heightened tensions between the Lebanese population and the over one million refugees from Syria that are in the country. The town of al-Qaa alone, which only has a population of 3,000, is home to some 30,000 Syrian refugees. In this context, local Lebanese authorities such as the governor of the province of Baalbek al-Hermel, where al-Qaa is located, declared a curfew in the town and other nearby cities. In addition, there were reports of attacks on Syrian refugees, frequent incursions by Lebanese security forces into the refugee camps to arrest those without papers, as well as some acts of violence against refugees. (ICG, 01-30/07/16; Le Monde, 30/06/16)
MALI: A state of emergency is declared following jihadist attacks
The security situation in the country continued to deteriorate due to attacks by jihadist groups, including Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), who have continued to strike against national and international forces throughout the month in the regions of Mopti, Ségou, Koro, Timbuktu and Kidal. The worst attack came on 19 June, when jihadist groups attacked a Malian Army base in Nampala, in the Ségou region. The attack claimed the lives of 17 soldiers and wounded 35 other people. Two different groups claimed responsibility for it: the Macina Liberation Front, which has ties to Ansar Dine and AQIM, and the recently created National Alliance for the Protection of Peul Identity and Restoration of Justice (ANSIPRJ). The government decreed a 10-day state of emergency, which Parliament extended until 29 March 2017 in a resolution approved on 30 July. Malian Army spokesman Modibo Naman Traore reported that on 27 July, the state security services arrested Ansar Dine regional commander Mahmoud Barry, also known as “Abou Yehiya”, who is suspected of involvement in the attack in Nampala. Meanwhile, clashes between groups that signed the peace process, the Self-Defence Group of Imrad Tuareg and Allies (GATIA) and the main rebel alliance, the Coalition of Movements of Azawad (CMA), broke out again in Kidal on 21 and 22 July, leaving around 20 people dead and wounding over 40. GATIA and the CMA faced off again in Edjerer on 30 July, located around 50 km from Kidal, reporting that GATIA had killed six members of the CMA. (Reuters, 19, 27/07/2016; BBC, 19/07/2016; NPR, 20/07/2016; DW, 20, 22, 27/07/2016; VOA, 21/07/2016; Al Jazeera, 22/07/2016; Fox News, 30/07/2016; MG, 30/072016)
PHILIPPINES (MINDANAO-ABU SAYYAF): Government states that in early days of Duterte’s presidency 40 members of Abu Sayyaf have died in several clashes
The government states in mid-July that in the early days of the new government of Rodrigo Duterte 40 members of Abu Sayyaf have died in clashes in the main strongholds of the group on the islands of Jolo and Basilan. Furthermore, the government also stated that 33 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF, a splinter group of the MILF opposed to the peace process) had been killed and nearly a score wounded after several days of conflict in Maguindanao province. Shortly after these confrontations, the MILF allowed the armed forces to enter areas it usually operates to pursue around 80 BIFF combatants. On previous occasions, the BIFF had already sought refuge in one of the main MILF strongholds, since this group has a peace agreement and a ceasefire agreement with the government. Previously, in February the armed forces stated that more than 30 BIFF combatants had been killed during counterinsurgency operations launched by the government after the group attacked a military detachment on 5 February in Maguindanao province. Meanwhile, in late July a faction of the BIFF claimed to have taken control of the group to the detriment of the current leader, Ismael Abubakar (alias Imam Bongos), considering that the current leadership had become far too aligned with ISIS. Bongos took control of the group after the death in 2015 of its founder, Ameril Umbra Kato. The new faction is led by Ustadz Karialan, also known as Imam Minimbang. The BIFF spokesperson, Abu Misry Mama, denied that the Karialan faction would have taken control of the group, which is estimated to have some 500 fighters, and indicated that the armed forces may be behind the upsurge of this group in order to weaken the BIFF. A few days after this presumed split or fight for control at the heart of the BIFF, a soldier and six fighters from the faction led by Karialan died in clashes in the Pamialan region in Maguindanao province. The armed forces urged the Karialan faction to surrender in order to avoid further clashes. Abu Misry Mama denied any involvement in these events and recalled that the Karialan group was a dissident faction of the BIFF that is no longer affiliated to the group. (Aljazeera, Reuters, Philippine Star, 11/07/16; Rappler, 08/07/16; Jakarta Post, 09/07/16; Manila Bulletin, Inquirer, 29/07/16; CNN, 19/07/16; InterAksyon, 29/07/16)
SYRIA: Violence intensifies in Aleppo and over 275,000 people remain trapped in the eastern part of the city controlled by opposition groups
Having become the main objective of the war, the city of Aleppo reported more intense fighting and air strikes during July, with severe consequences for the civilian population. Early in the month, government forces cut off the Castillo or Castello Road, the sole path that remained open to ferry supplies to parts of the city under the control of opposition groups. As a result, over 275,000 people remained trapped in the eastern part of the city, which was the target of intense bombing, including in residential areas, killing scores of civilians. The UN condemned the indiscriminate attacks and warned of the growing humanitarian needs in this area. After the Castillo Road was cut off, rebel forces also stepped up their attacks using mortars and various projectiles against the western part of Aleppo, controlled by the regime. At the end of the month, Damascus and Moscow proposed establishing humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave rebel areas and the government offered amnesty to insurgents who laid down their weapons. However, this proposal was met with suspicion and reluctance both inside and outside Syria. Meanwhile, other fronts in the war in Syria continued to claim the lives of many civilians. The most prominent events of the period included the air strikes and fighting between the armed group ISIS and the Syrian Democratic Forces (led by the YPG) in the area around Manbij, which left over 100 civilian fatalities. In July, 80% of the air strikes launched by the US-led international coalition against ISIS took place in Manbij and activists reported that one of them killed around 73 civilians on 19 July. A similar incident at the end of the month may have killed 28 civilians. Washington announced an investigation into the events. Other notable incidents during the month included a car bomb attack claimed by ISIS that killed 48 people in the city of Qamishli, near the Turkish border, which exploded near the headquarters of the Kurdish forces, and an air strike on a maternity hospital supported by Save the Children in the city of Kafr Takharim, in Idlib governorate, which killed two people and injured several babies, showing once again that hospitals have become a target in the war in Syria. Amnesty International also denounced the many abuses committed by armed opposition groups after documenting a number of cases of kidnapping, torture and summary execution since 2011. Finally, in July the al-Nusra Front declared that it was cutting ties with al-Qaeda and changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. (ICG, 01/08/16; The New York Times, 28/07/16; BBC, 12, 29/07/16; al-Jazeera, 20, 27, 30/07/16; AP, 10/07/10; Time, 13/07/16; Amnesty International, 05/07/16; UN 01-31/07/16)
SOUTH SUDAN: Serious clashes in the capital leave hundreds dead
Early in the month, serious clashes broke out between the armed forces loyal to the government of Salva Kiir and the SPLA-IO forces of Vice President Riek Machar, in the capital of the country, Juba. The fighting began on 7 July in front of the presidential palace and stopped on 9 July for the celebration of national independence day, though it resumed afterwards. After four days of fighting, and under pressure from the regional bloc known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United Nations, the African Union and the government of the United States, President Kiir and Vice President Machar declared a ceasefire for their troops on 11 July. That same day, Machar and the SPLA-IO forces that had reached Juba a few months before abandoned the capital, stating that they would not return until a regional force deployed there and guaranteed their protection. According to the official count provided by the minister of health, the clashes claimed around 270 lives, including 44 government troops, five police officers and 190 alleged SPLA-IO fighters. In addition, 34 government troops and 27 civilians were wounded. However, other sources claimed that up to 500 people were killed. Fighting in Juba claimed the lives of four members of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSMA), two of which were Chinese and the other two of which were Rwandan. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked the members of the UN Security Council to impose a weapons embargo, which was backed by the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Angola and other members of the Council. Russia, which had rejected the move on previous occasions, said that it was willing to consider imposing the embargo and sending more troops to help to stabilise the country. The Security Council declared that it is considering strengthening the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and urged the countries of the region to prepare to send additional troops if the council decides to boost the 13,500-man force. The IGAD called on both sides to withdraw their armed forces from Juba so they could be replaced by a regional protection force that would assume security there. The African Union endorsed the decision and during the extraordinary AU summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, it agreed to deploy regional troops coming from Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda and Ethiopia. However, Salva Kiir said that his government “will not accept a single soldier” to support the peacekeeping forces as demanded by regional leaders and the United Nations. SPLA spokesman Lul Ruai Koang declared that the South Sudanese Armed Forces would fight against the foreign troops trying to enter the country. Some leaders of the SPLA-IO faction in Juba were also opposed to the deployment of more regional soldiers. The crisis worsened on 25 July, when Salva Kiir appointed Mining Minister Taban Deng Gai to be the deputy vice president, replacing Riek Machar. This decision split the SPLA-IO, most of whose leaders and combatants did not accept it, which led to new clashes between the SPLA and the SPLA (IO) in other parts of the country, like those reported in Leer, Wau, Ngo Baggari and again in Juba at the end of the month. Ann Encontre, the coordinator for UN refugees in South Sudan, said that the number of South Sudanese refugees could reach one million this year, stating that around 42,000 people fed Juba in four days of fighting. (Al Jazeera, 08, 15/07/2016; BBC, 08/07/2016; Reuters, 12/07/2016, Sudan Tribune, 08, 11, 15, 17, 2107/2016; Radio Tamazuj, 14, 21/07/2016; VOA, 18/07/2016; BBC News, 20/07/2016)
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: The situation of insecurity persists in different areas of the country and thousands of people flee because of the fighting
Large areas of the country remain under the full control of armed groups. Specifically, insecurity and tension continue in the northwest, the southwest and the central area as armed groups are reluctant to participate in the disarmament process. UNHCR and partner organizations have warned that at least 6,000 people have fled the country to Chad and Cameroon to escape the fighting that started up again in mid-June as a result of clashes between ranchers and farmers in the town of Ngaoundaye, in the northwest, in the Ouham Pende region. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, warned that the security and human rights situation is deteriorating after several incidents that took place in the capital and in rural areas. He noted that although 2016 started on a positive note with the February elections, recent events made him fear that a re-escalation of violence may take place in the coming months. Consequently the disarmament of the militias is urgent. Fighting and violence have forced the displacement of between 25,000 and 30,000 people in the interior of the country so far this year. The government announced on July 12 that the country was in talks to lift the arms embargo so that arms could be purchased for the army, and on July 13 French President François Hollande said that the Sangaris military mission will end its presence in the country in October. Finally, it should be noted that the UN Security Council resolution 2301 extended the presence of the MINUSCA mission in the country until November 2017. (UN, 04, 08/07/16; AfricaNews, 13/07/16; UNSC, 26/07/16)
FRANCE: Eighty-four people are killed and over 200 are wounded in an attack during a French national holiday celebration in Nice for which ISIS claims responsibility
In an attack during French national holiday celebrations in Nice, a man drove a truck into an assembled crowd, killing 84 people and wounding over 200. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and the French authorities also described it as an act of terrorism. The assailant had been booked by the police for common crimes, including domestic violence, but was not associated with extremist groups. This was a new large-scale attack on French soil following the November 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and left over 360 wounded, as well as the attacks in January 2015 against the magazine Charlie Hebdo, which caused the deaths of a dozen people and wounded so many others. After the attacks, the French president said that France would increase its military operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. (BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, 15-31/07/16)
NORTH KOREA, DPRK: Tension mounts between North Korea and the USA following the targeting of sanctions at various North Korean leaders, including Kim Jong-un
Tension mounts anew after the North Korean government described the targeting of sanctions by the US government at Kim Jong-un and other North Korean leaders as an open declaration of war. After learning of these sanctions, the first against North Korean leaders and which include the freezing of assets and a ban on financial transactions, Pyongyang threatened to break all diplomatic ties with the USA. Furthermore, a number of days later it launched a ballistic missile from a submarine and fired three short-range ballistic missiles that fell in the Sea of Japan. As on previous occasions, China opposed unilateral sanctions. Previously, in early June both the US government and the European Union had already announced they would impose sanctions on North Korea. Moreover, tension had already mounted in late June after the Security Council condemned the launching of two medium-range ballistic missiles by North Korea and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) urged the North Korean government to comply with Security Council and IAEA resolutions. Previously, this latter international body had warned that several satellite images indicated that activities had resumed at Yongbyon nuclear complex, the largest facility in the country. In this respect, it should be noted that Kim Jong-un himself had already stated during the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party held in May (the first in 36 years) that the North Korean nuclear programme would continue. Likewise, on a visit to China where he met with Xi Jinping (the first visit by a senior North Korean official since 2013) party Vice President Ri-Su yong stated that his country would continue to strengthen its nuclear capacity. (Guardian, New York Daily News, 30/07/16; CNN, New York Times, 11/07/16; Reuters, 07/07/16; USA TODAY, 28/07/16; NBCNews, 20/07/16)
UKRAINE (EAST): Ceasefire violations continue in the conflict zone
New incidents of violence took place in the conflict zone in the eastern part of the country, causing dozens of casualties. The violence continued to be concentrated in areas of the Donetsk region, following the pattern in previous months, including areas like Avdiivka and Marinka. Incidents also took place in the region of Luhansk. The day 19 July was especially serious, with the deaths of seven Ukrainian soldiers making it the single bloodiest day since 24 May. Six other soldiers were killed and 13 were wounded on 24 July. Various civilians were also killed and dozens were wounded. Meanwhile, the domestic situation in Ukraine regarding security and human rights remains fragile. A joint report by Amnesty International and HRW warned of arbitrary arrests and torture by both parties to the conflict. Furthermore, Pavel Sheremet, a journalist originally from Belarus who held a Russian passport, was critical of the Kremlin and lived in Kiev, was killed in the capital when the car in which he was travelling exploded. In political developments, the EU formally approved the prolongation of economic sanctions against Russia until January 2017. The United States also stated that it would maintain its sanctions until the Minsk agreements were implemented. On the other hand, regarding international relations important for the Ukrainian context, NATO formally approved the announced deployment of armed forces in the Baltic countries and Poland (four battalions of up to 1,000 soldiers, led by Canada, the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom), defined as an appropriate deterrent against Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would respond to NATO’s announcement, but would try to avoid entering an arms race. It also announced plans to deploy an advanced anti-missile system in Crimea. (The Guardian, BBC, Reuters, Interfax, RFE/RL, 1-31/07/16)
TURKEY: An attempted coup d’état blamed on the movement of the cleric Gülen kills and wounds hundreds, prompting a state of emergency and mass purges
Part of the Turkish Army carried out a coup d’état on 15 July by mobilising troops in Ankara, Istanbul and other places and by announcing that a Peace Council had taken control of the country. The coup was unsuccessful following the power assertion by the government, the deployment of loyalist security forces and popular demonstrations. The failed coup killed at least 265 people, including over 100 participants in the coup, and wounded over 1,400. It also caused damage to infrastructure, including the Parliament. The government and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the movement led by the cleric Fetullah Gülen, exiled in the United States, of being behind the attack. Gülen’s movement is described as a terrorist organisation under the acronym FETÖ and has been banned by the state. The failed coup attempt triggered condemnation from all political parties, which approved a joint statement for the session on 16 July, which was considered historic and opened the doors to democratic unity. The coup also prompted the government to declare a state of emergency (a move criticised by the opposition parties CHP and HDP) and mass purges against groups considered linked to the Gülen movement accused of participating in or promoting the coup d’état. Therefore, over 100 generals, more than 30 admirals and over 1,500 soldiers were dismissed. Around 60,000 public officials were also fired, including in the foreign ministry and ministry of the Interior, as well as over 2,700 judges. Around 100 radio and television stations, newspapers, magazines, publishing companies and distribution companies were also shut down and over 2,000 private schools, associations, trade unions, foundations, healthcare institutions and universities were closed. According to figures released by the ministry of the Interior on 27 July, 15,000 people had been arrested and at least 8,000 remained under custody for alleged links to the coup d’état. Despite the immediate political unity in response to the attempted coup, various voices were critical of the government throughout the month due to the impacts of the mass purges in restricting rights and freedoms. The pro-Kurdish party HDP criticised its exclusion from the high-level meeting convened by Erdogan on 25 July in the presidential palace, where the leaders of the opposition parties CHP and MHP were invited. All three parties agreed to start working on constitutional changes and Erdogan announced that all charges against people accused of insulting him were being dropped. (Hürriyet, Bianet, Firat, The Guardian, ICG, 1-31/07/16)
TURKEY (SOUTHEAST): The state imposes new curfews in the Kurdish region
The conflict remained active in southeastern Turkey. The Turkish authorities decreed 16 new curfews in towns in mid-July, while fighting and attacks continued in different areas. On 30 July, the Turkish Army announced the deaths of 35 PKK militants in Hakkari province following an attempt to seize control of a military base in the district of Çukura, according to military sources. Meanwhile, according to the HDP, in the days following the failed coup d’état in Turkey, the PKK’s armed activities largely stopped, which was interpreted as intentional. The think tank ICG provided figures stating that 42 members of the security forces, 33 members of the PKK and eight civilians lost their lives during the month. Thus, in the first half of July, legislation was enacted to provide legal protection to the military personnel participating in the antiterrorist operations, setting up a requirement for government authorisation in order to investigate them for alleged crimes and ruling out civil lawsuits. The legislation also grants legal authorisation for participating in the operations. (Hürriyet, Bianet, Firat, The Guardian, ICG, 1-31/07/16)
SOMALIA: Preparations for indirect elections continue
On July 1, the President of the Federal Government, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, approved the appointment of the 22 members of the National Election Commission, which will organize the elections to be held in August. On 16 July, the commission appointed Omar Mohamud Abdulle as president. Abdulle is also a Legal Adviser to President Mohamud. Several reports indicate that the regional states do not have a favourable opinion of the commission or its composition. Meanwhile, an AU pre-election mission was visiting the country for two days, and it pledged to increase support from the AU for the election process. The system chosen for power sharing among the different clans is the 4.5 formula, in which power is evenly shared among the country’s four main clans and the remaining minorities represent the equivalent of half a clan. On a final note, an attack took place on July 26 in which two explosions killed 13 people. Nine where members of the UN surveillance mission and three were AU soldiers. The two explosions were near the UN and AU protected area near Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab raised the death toll to 27. (Xinhua, 13/07/16; Shabelle Media Network, 01 y 16/07/16; EFE, AfricaNews, 26/07/16)
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