AMERICAS Argentina / Jamaica / Panama (Security threat levels –...
Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 20 April 2019, four assailants detonated explosives and opened fire on police officers at the Information Ministry headquarters in central Kabul. Approximately 2,000 people were trapped inside the building for several hours until security forces could evacuate them. At least seven people were killed in the clashes, including three police officers and four civilians; at least eight other people were wounded. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; the Taliban and the Afghan branch of the Islamic State have denied involvement.
Philippines (Security threat level – 4): On 22 April 2019, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Pampanga province at approximately 1710 local time (0910 UTC). According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake occurred near the municipality of Foridablanca or approximately 60 km (40 mi) northwest of Manila, and was measured at a depth of approximately 40 km (24 mi). The quake shook buildings in Manila, prompting hundreds of people to evacuate buildings. Authorities closed Clark International Airport (RPLC/CRK) for 24 hours after damage was reported at the facility. At least six flights were canceled following the announcement. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (RPLL/MNL) reportedly did not sustain any damage, and normal operations are ongoing. At least five people in Pampanga province died as a result of collapsing structures.
Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 3): On 21 April 2019, eight bombings targeted prominent hotels and churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticalo. In Colombo, the explosions targeted St. Anthony’s Shrine, the Shangri-La Hotel, the Kingsbury Hotel, the Cinnamon Grand Hotel and the Tropical Inn. One additional explosion occurred at a residence in the Dematagoda suburb of Colombo as police officers were questioning a suspect, who then detonated a bomb, killing himself and three officers. In Negombo, an attack targeted St. Sebastian’s Church. Authorities also discovered an improvised explosive device on a road near Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB/VCBI), which is located in Negombo but serves Colombo, and placed the airport on lockdown while they destroyed the bomb in a controlled explosion. Operations at the airport continued uninterrupted. In Batticaloa, an attack targeted the Zion Church. Thus far, at least 290 people have been killed and more than 500 injured.
In light of the continued attacks, security officials have implemented a nationwide curfew. Reports as of 22 April indicate that the curfew will last until 0400 local time on 23 April (2230 UTC on 22 April). Authorities have also declared a state of emergency, which allow security forces to detain and interrogate suspects without legal orders.
As of 22 April, authorities have conducted a controlled explosion of a device near Colombo’s St. Anthony’s Shrine. They have also found at least 87 bomb detonators at a bus station and a garbage dump in Colombo. Thus far, authorities have arrested at least 13 people in connection with the attacks. The Sri Lankan government has accused local miliant group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) of perpetrating the attack. However, at least one media source has claimed that the Jamaat al-Tawhid al-Watania is behind the attack. Most reports indicate that these groups could not have conducted the attacks without international support.
Authorities have stepped up security at locations across the country; disruptions and delays at hospitals, airports, train stations and other major travel hubs are likely due to increased security measures. Travelers departing from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (VCBI/CMB) are advised to arrive four hours ahead of their scheduled flight due to heightened security measures at the airport.
France (Security threat level – 3): On 20 April 2019, approximately 28,000 people took to the streets across France for the 23rd consecutive weekend of “yellow vest” protests. While most of the demonstrations were peaceful, there were reports of scuffles in Paris and Toulouse. In Paris, police officers fired tear gas and water cannons after protesters set fire to vehicles, safety barriers and trash cans, and threw bottles and other objects at police officers. In Toulouse, several hundred protesters threw projectiles at police officers, prompting them to also respond with tear gas and water cannons. Police officers arrested approximately 250 protesters nationwide.
Georgia (Security threat level – 3): On 21 April 2019, police officers and several hundred protesters clashed near the construction site for a hydropower plant in Birkiani in the northeastern Pankisi region. Local residents protesting the construction of the plant threw rocks at officers, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Officials report that 55 people were injured in the clashes, including 17 protesters and 38 police officers.
Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 21 April 2019, Nigerian officials confirmed that unidentified armed assailants had stormed the Kajuru Castle resort, located approximately 60 km (37 mi) southeast of Kaduna, late on 19 April. During the attack, the assailants abducted four tourists and shot and killed two people, including one British aid worker and one Nigerian national. Authorities have not located the assailants or the hostages, and it remains unclear if any ransom demands have been made. Kidnappings are common in Nigeria, particularly in Kaduna state.
Serbia (Security threat level – 3):
On 22 April 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 3): On 21 April 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued a Travel Advisory for Sri Lanka in which it raised its overall level of advice to “Level 2: Exercise Increase Caution” from from “Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions.” The Travel Advisory reads in part as follows:
Security threat levels range from 1 (Very Low) to 5 (Very High) and are determined using a comprehensive system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The primary factors used to determine a location’s security threat level are Armed Conflict, Crime, Demonstrations/Strikes, Ethnic/Sectarian Tensions, Graft/Corruption, Kidnapping, Political Instability, Government Restriction and Terrorism.