Attrition: The Slaughter of the Ignored

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June 27, 2008: While violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan get lots of attention, as do terrorist attacks in India, 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, continues to account 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.)

For the last few months, combat deaths in Sri Lanka have averaged over a hundred a week. Only occasionally has the violence in Afghanistan gotten that bad, and Pakistan, despite all the noise about the Taliban and al Qaeda, has far fewer deaths than Sri Lanka. Why does the world ignore the slaughter in Sri Lanka? Largely because the battle there has few international implications. Although the Tamil rebels raise money all over the world, they have confined their international terrorism to fellow Tamils (most of whom live in southern India.) The principal Tamil rebel group, the LTTE, are quite capable terrorists, and basically wrote the book on suicide bombing. But, unlike the Islamic terrorists, the LTTE is not out to conquer the world, only there little piece of the island nation Sri Lanka. So if you don't go looking diligently for Sri Lanka news, you won't get it.

 


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