December
2

Worldview Security Update - December 2, 2019

ASIA

China (Security threat level - 3): Over the weekend of 29 November-1 December 2019, violence broke out between police officers and protesters at several demonstrations in Hong Kong. On the afternoon of 1 December police officers deployed pepper spray and several rounds of tear gas against protesters who had gathered at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Hung Hom and then marched to Tsim Sha Tsui. Protesters marching along Salisbury Road began throwing projectiles at police officers, prompting authorities to deploy additional officers to the area. Earlier in the day, approximately 200 protesters conducted a peaceful protest in Central to demand an end to police use of tear gas against demonstrators.

On the evening of 30 November riot police officers deployed tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators marching along Argyle Street and Nathan Road in Mong Kok. Police officers had attempted earlier that evening to disperse protesters who had gathered outside Mong Kok Police Station and dismantled barricades and roadblocks as they advanced north on Nathan Road toward Prince Edward. Authorities closed an exit at Prince Edward Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station, while demonstrators lit a fire at the entrance to Mong Kok MTR station.

Earlier in the day on 30 November a riot police officer fired a number of nonlethal “pepper ball” projectiles toward protesters on Prince Edward Road West; one of the projectiles struck a protester in the face, inflicting minor injuries. Demonstrators earlier gathered at the Clock Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui and marched toward Hung Hom Coliseum, located near Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Authorities had previously granted permission for the march.

On the afternoon of 29 November police officers used pepper spray to disperse protesters in the Cheung Sha Wan district of Kowloon. Protesters also occupied areas of Central and Kowloon Bay during the lunch hour, including the intersection between Cheung Lai Street and Cheung Shun Street in Cheung Sha Wan. The protests temporarily disrupted taxi and bus services on several nearby streets; however, the demonstrators dispersed within hours and no additional clashes or disruptions occurred. According to local officials, three police officers were injured and a total of 58 protesters were arrested during the violence over the past weekend.

Philippines (Security threat level - 4): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 2 December 2019, Typhoon Kammuri -- known as Typhoon Tisoy in the Philippines -- was located approximately 530 km (330 mi) east-southeast of Manila, Philippines, and was moving westward at 17 kph (11 mph). At that time, Kammuri was generating maximum sustained winds of 195 kph, with gusts of up to 240 kph. Kammuri is expected to make landfall in southeastern Luzon on the morning of 3 December and to bring heavy rainfall to the Bicol region and the Samar province through 4 December, with estimates of 200-300 mm (8-12 in) of rain. The storm is expected to strengthen to the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane. Authorities issued a Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal Number 3 on a five tier scale in Catanduanes, Camarines Sur and Albay. Manila International Airport (RPLL/MNL) is expected to shut down operations on 3 December from 1100 local time (0300 UTC) until 2300 local time as a safety precaution; the closure period could change depending on the storm’s impact on Metro Manila.

On 1 December authorities began evacuating approximately 100,000 people near coastal areas due to expected flooding and landslides. Residents have begun moving to evacuation centers at local schools and gymnasiums in Carmarines Norte. In addition, the Philippine coast guard in Camarines Sur suspended all boat departures as a precaution. Approximately 70,000 people have evacuated from their homes in the Bicol region. The storm has disrupted several planned events at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games currently taking place in and around Manila; however, the organizing committee has stated that contingency plans are in place for severe weather and the event will conclude as planned on 11 December.

EUROPE

United Kingdom (Security threat level - 3): On 29 November 2019, a man armed with a knife attacked individuals participating in a prison rehabilitation conference at Fishmongers' Hall, located at the northern end of London Bridge. Occupants of the building hosting the conference physically confronted the assailant, forcing him to leave the premises and continue onto the bridge, where police officers shot and killed him. Officials stated that the assailant was also wearing a fake explosives-laden vest during the attack. The man killed at least two people and wounded three others in the attack. He had been convicted and jailed in 2012 for planning and raising funds to commit acts of terrorism and was released from prison in December 2018. While the Islamic State group claimed affiliation with the assailant, U.K. officials believe that the man acted alone and may have planned the attack less than 24 hours in advance.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iraq (Security threat level - 5): On 30 November 2019, two improvised explosive devices detonated in two separate areas in central Kirkuk, located in northern Iraq. Local reports state that the first explosion occurred in Ahmed Agha market in the downtown area and the second blast took place on a bridge in the southern part of the city. At least 16 civilians were injured in the explosions. No group has yet claimed responsibility and police officers have launched an investigation into the attacks.

Analyst Comment: Terrorist attacks in downtown Kirkuk are rare, although the city remains a preferred target for such attacks due to its vast oil resources.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Cameroon (Security threat level - 4): On the morning of 1 December 2019, Anglophone separatist insurgents opened fire on Cameroon Airlines (Camair-Co) flight 272 during its approach to Bamenda Airport (FKKV/BPC), located in the country’s Northwest province. The Xian MA-60 aircraft -- en route from the city of Douala -- landed safely and no individuals on board were injured. Authorities grounded the targeted aircraft due to damage sustained to the fuselage. Flight operations at the facility were not significantly disrupted as a result of the incident. Although Anglophone separatist insurgents are active in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest provinces, such attacks on civilian aircraft are less common.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bolivia (Security threat level - 3): On 2 December 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Bolivia, which reads in part as follows: "The FCO no longer advise against all but essential travel to Bolivia...the political and security situation remains uncertain across Bolivia following an extended period of wide-scale political demonstrations and civil unrest since disputed elections in October 2019, and the resignation of the President and senior public officials on 10 November. An interim government is now in place ahead of fresh elections."

Chile (Security threat level - 2): On 29 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Chile, which reads in part as follows:

“Since 18 October there have been large demonstrations across Chile. Protests have resulted in incidents of violence and travel disruption in cities and towns, including Santiago, Temuco, Iquique, Conception and Rancagua. There have been reports of looting and clashes in parts of Punta Arenas, Santiago, Viña del Mar, Arica, Puerto Montt, Valparaiso, Antofagasta, and Iquique.

“Large demonstrations are expected in Santiago and other cities on a daily basis and there is a risk of violence associated with them. Police resources may be limited and support to respond to incidents slower than normal. In Santiago, protests are expected to take place in Las Condes, Providencia and Vitacura where the British Embassy and many international hotels are located. At present, the Chilean Government recommends tourists avoid Plaza Baquedano/Plaza Italia. The Chilean Government also recommends tourists avoid the centre of Valparaiso city.”

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level - 4): On 29 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which reads in part as follows: “There have been recent protests beginning on 20 November 2019 in Beni and Butembo in Eastern DRC. These have targeted UN and Government vehicles and premises due to a rise in anti-government and anti-UN sentiment. Further demonstrations elsewhere are likely, including Goma and Kinshasa. These may involve ‘Ville Morte’ resulting in closure of shops and public services accompanied by restrictions on movement in a specific area. In all instances, you should remain vigilant and be aware of disruptions to journeys. If a demonstration or disturbance takes place, leave quickly and don’t attempt to watch or photograph it.”

France (Security threat level - 3): On 29 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Paris issued a Demonstration Alert regarding an upcoming general strike across France, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: France, nationwide

“Event: A general strike in France affecting transportation and other public service sectors will take place on Thursday, December 5, 2019. There will be significant disruptions to rail, air, and local transportation services. This strike could continue beyond December 5, and many trains and flights have already been cancelled.

“In conjunction with the strike, various labor unions are planning large demonstrations in major cities. The “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vests) are expected to join these marches. Please review the Travel Advisory for France – Exercise Increased Caution for additional safety and security information. While the demonstrations may not be directed at the U.S. Embassy, access to the streets surrounding the Embassy may be blocked by police or demonstrators.

“Travelers should check the status of flights directly with their airline and make sure to allow additional time to get to the airport. For information on train and Paris Metro and bus disruptions, please see the links below:

“SNCF Trains: https://en.oui.sncf/train/greve

“Paris Metro and Buses: https://www.ratp.fr/en

“Eurostar: https://www.eurostar.com/us-en/travel-info/service-information/eurostar-travel-updates

“Actions to Take:

  • Review travel plans for December 5-9
  • Prepare for alternate lodging or transportation in the event your itinerary is interrupted.”

Nigeria (Security threat level - 5): On 28 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Nigeria, which reads in part as follows: “Since January 2018, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has protested regularly in central Abuja and other cities. These protests, particularly in Abuja, have the potential to turn violent. It has been reported that on 27 November 2019, while dispersing IMN protesters, police accidentally shot a school girl and arrested a number of journalists who were subsequently released. Tensions remain heightened. You should monitor local media, avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings and follow any instructions from local police and security forces.”

Turkey (Security threat level - 4): On 2 December 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Turkey, countrywide

“Event: During the holiday season, security measures in Turkey remain heightened due to the existence of terrorist groups, inspired by violent extremist ideology throughout Europe, who continue plotting possible attacks on Turkey. Terrorists continue to focus on tourist locations, shopping malls, airports, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, transportation hubs, and other soft targets frequented by Westerners.”