ISIS claims Ashura mosque attack in Oman

Nine people were killed, including three attackers, and 30 more wounded as gunmen opened fire on worshippers outside a Shi'ite mosque in Wadi al-Kabir district of Muscat, the capital of usually peaceful Oman. The assailants reportedly shouted as they fired, "You non-believers, this is your end!" Four Pakistani nationals and a police officer were among those killed. The Islamic State group (ISIS) claimed responsibility the July 16 attack, which occurred during the Shi'ite holy month of Ashura. ISIS released a video showing three men holding rifles and their black flag, boasting of "the targeting of the Rafida," a pejorative term for Shi'ites. (The National, BBC News, France24AFP, JPMEMRI)

Pakistan: cross-country march against counterterrorism operation

Protestors marched between two towns of Pakistan's restive Swat district July 5 in response to proposed plans by the military for a major new "counter-terrorist" operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, near the border with Afghanistan. The protest, organized by the local groups Ulasi Passon (Public Revolution) and Orakzai Peace Movement, saw thousands marching with white flags and signs reading "We want peace" and "We hate government terrorism." However, the government reiterated that the operation against militant organizations in the region, dubbed Azm-e-Istehkam (Resolve for Stability), will go ahead. The armed forces insisted that unlike the last major push against the insurgents, Operation Zarb-e-Azb of 2014, the new operation will not result in mass displacement of residents. (Jurist, The Diplomat)

Uprising in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

Three protesters were killed and six injured May 14 as Pakistani security forces fired on crowds during angry street demonstrations in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). The paramilitary Rangers were mobilized to Muzaffarabad after a police officer was killed three days earlier amid protests over high food, fuel and electricity prices. A "wheel-jam and shutter-down" strike had been called by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) on May 10, but was called off as Islamabad agreed to a Rs 23 billion ($86 million) subsidy for the region. The new deadly violence erupted just as the Rangers were starting to withdraw from Muzaffarabad. A curfew remains in place in the city. (Jurist, Dawn, FPK, India Today, LiveMint, BBC News)

Chinese interests targeted in Pakistan terror

At least five Chinese nationals and one Pakistani were killed in a car bombing March 26 in Pakistan's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The victims, employees of Wuhan-based engineering firm Gezhouba Group Co, were en route to the Dasu hydropower project on the Indus River. It was the third attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan in a week. No group has claimed responsibility for the car bombing, but the two previous attacks were claimed by the separatist Baloch Liberation Army (BLA)—including an assault on the Chinese-funded strategic port of Gwadar. (TNH)

Taliban pledge retaliation for Pakistani air-strikes

Pakistan is accused of killing eight civilians in March 18 air-strikes on Afghanistan. Islamabad says the strikes were conducted in retaliation for a deadly suicide attack on an army base at Mir Ali, North Waziristan district, two days earlier by a cell of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militant group that was operating out of Afghan territory. Afghanistan's Taliban government has denied the charges and promised retaliation for the killing of what it says were mostly women and children in the provinces of Khost and Paktika. This marks the latest escalation between the neighbors since Pakistan enacted a policy that has led to the expulsion of more than 500,000 Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan. 

China moves toward recognition of Taliban regime

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Jan. 29 officially accepted the credentials of the envoy to Beijing from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan—a clear step toward recognition of the regime. A month before that, Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, visited Kabul to meet with Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi—the highest-level meeting between China and the Taliban regime since its return to power in 2021. China has already struck hydrocarbon deals with the Taliban, and has been eyeing Afghanistan's lithium, copper and rare-earth metal mines. This is in line with Beijing's perceived design to establish control over the planet's rare earth minerals. (Eurasian TimesCNBC)

Podcast: Gaza, Guernica and the Great Game

In Episode 209 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the frightening international escalation set off by the Gaza cataclysm, with Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan all coming under aerial bombardment over the past week, in a cascading regional crisis. The 1937 aerial bombardment of the Spanish town of Guernica by Nazi warplanes shocked the world. Today, what happened there is a near-daily occurrence in countries around the world. And the media ("mainstream," "alternative" and "social") are more concerned with how the various actors line up in the Great Power game than the horrific realities on the ground. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon

Iran and Pakistan trade air-strikes across border

Iran Jan. 17 carried out missile and drone strikes against targets of the Jaish al-Adl militant group in Pakistan's Balochistan province. Pakistan called the assault, which resulted in the death of two children, an "unprovoked violation" of its airspace. The unprecedented strikes, attributed to the Revolutionary Guards, are seen as a response to the recent deadly suicide bombing by the Islamic State in Iran. (Times of India) Pakistan retaliated the next day with strikes on villages in Iran's Sistan & Baluchistan province, reportedly killing seven, including four children. (WION, CNN

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