Nepal could be used as transit, staging point for int’l terrorists, US State Department warns

Published On: June 25, 2020 03:14 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 25: The US State Department on Friday warned that Nepal could be used as a transit or staging point for international terrorists due to the open border with India and insufficient security protocols at the country’s sole international airport in Kathmandu.

In a report titled "Country Reports on Terrorism 2019", the State Department said, "Nepal appears to be largely infertile soil for terrorism propagated by international terrorist organizations.  A more significant threat is non-Nepali international terrorist groups using Nepal as a transit or staging point or soft target."

However, the report mentioned that Nepal experienced no acts of international terrorism in 2019. 

Nepal does not employ strategic communications to counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment, the report stated adding that there are no government or civil society programs in Nepal to counter terrorist recruitment or rehabilitate former terrorists. 

"The government generally does not view terrorism, specifically “extremist” ideology originating from conflict or instability in the Middle East, as a significant threat in Nepal.  Nepal appears to be largely infertile soil for terrorism propagated by international terrorist organizations," reads the report.

The report has also incorporated some domestic incidents of violence that occurred in 2019.

"Political violence in Nepal remained small in scale and involved attacks on large-scale infrastructure, government offices, or locations affiliated with political parties or officials.  Violence occurring on or around the 2019 by-elections focused on voter intimidation and, in some cases, political extortion.  The Government of Nepal attributed the majority of the attacks to the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), a political faction better known as “Biplav,” led by Netra Bikram Chand," the report observed.

Domestic incidents included small bombings in various locations throughout the country, for which authorities blamed the Biplav Group, the State Department stated. 

"The attacks employed small, real, or hoax IEDs.  In total, Embassy Kathmandu, with assistance from Nepali law enforcement contacts, attributed an estimated 34 IEDs, 5 hoaxes, and 29 arson attacks to Biplav in 2019," the report said.

The report has mentioned following incidents:

-        On February 22, a series of 15 IED or arson attacks on cell phone towers owned by telecommunications service provider Ncell took place across Nepal, killing one person and injuring two others.

-        Throughout the year, Biplav organized numerous nation-wide protests, which were frequently accompanied by IED attacks and other forms of violence.  One notable protest began on May 27 and lasted two days. The protests resulted in a series of three IED explosions targeting government offices and Nepal Communist Party (NCP, not to be confused with the Community Party of Nepal) headquarters in Kathmandu, killing four and injuring seven.  The Home Ministry announced that 15 Biplav members had been arrested in connection with the May 27 and 28 explosions.

-        On July 30-31, Biplav again targeted Ncell, carrying out a number of arson and IED attacks in the central region of Nepal as part of a nation-wide protest.  The attacks destroyed 22 cell towers.

-        During the by-elections on November 30, there were approximately nine instances of IEDs, including one hoax, primarily targeting polling station locations. It is widely assessed that the attacks were intended to intimidate political candidates, convince voters to stay home, and undermine the elections. Most recently, on December 14, an IED exploded in Dhanusha, killing three people and injuring four.


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