Attrition: The Secret War in South Asia

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February 15, 2008: While violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan get lots of attention, most of the action in the region is taking place far to the south, in Sri Lanka. There, a civil war between ethnic Tamil separatists and the government, accounted for over half the combat and terrorist deaths in the region (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh) this year. It's true that Pakistan and Afghanistan account for most of the remainder, and largely because international terrorist organizations like al Qaeda have set up their bases along the Pakistani-Afghan border. But most of the fighting is now going on far to the south, where the 25 year old civil war is grinding to a conclusion (with the rebels losing.)

Sri Lanka is in the tropics, so weather does not slow down the violence, as does Winter in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, while nearly 8,000 have died in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last year, nearly 3,000 have died in Sri Lanka. Even taking climate into account, there's a pretty violent conflict taking place in that island nation off the southern tip of India.

 


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