Worldview Security Report – December 31, 2018
31-Dec-18

ASIA

Philippines (Security threat level – 4) : On 31 December 2018, an explosion occurred outside the South Seas Mall in Cotabato City on Mindanao Island. Preliminary reports indicate that the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device that was placed near a fireworks stand outside the entrance to the mall. At least two people were killed and 32 others were injured in the blast. Police officers also found a second explosive device on the second floor of the mall, which they successfully disarmed. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, military officials have blamed the Daulah Islamiya terrorist group for the blast.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia (Security threat level – 2): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 31 December 2018, Tropical Cyclone 08P has formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria approximately 852 km (529 mi) northwest of Cairns, Queensland. At that time, the storm was moving northwest at a speed of 7 kph (5 mph), while generating maximum sustained winds of 65 kph with gusts up to 83 kph. The storm is expected to make landfall over the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland on 1 January, before entering the Coral Sea. The storm is expected to generate heavy rainfall, and authorities have warned of possible flash flooding.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 31 December 2018, “yellow vest” protesters are planning to hold several rallies in cities across France to mark New Year’s Eve. The U.S. Embassy in Paris has warned that protests are possible in Amiens, Avignon, Bordeaux, Bourges, Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nancy, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Rennes, Rouen, Strasbourg and Toulouse. The largest gathering is expected in Paris, where thousands of people are expected to attend a protest on the Champs-Élysées. Demonstrations are also expected in Paris’ 1st, 4th, 7th, 8th, 15th, 16th and 17th arrondissements; possible gathering points include the Place de la Concorde, Place de la Madeleine, Place de la Bastille, Place de la République, the National Assembly, the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower, the Porte de Versailles and in the vicinity of the Porte Maillot, potentially blocking traffic on the nearby Périphérique ring road. While organizers have called for protests on 31 December to be non-violent, the possibility of violence cannot be discounted.

The French government has deployed more than 147,000 security forces across the country ahead of the protests. Paris city officials announced that the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Champs-Élysées, which typically attracts tens of thousands of tourists, will go ahead despite the protests. Authorities will be setting up a perimeter around the Champs-Élysées and the Place de l’Etoile, and searching attendees’ bags and vehicles for prohibited items like alcohol and pyrotechnic devices. The Champs-Élysées and surrounding area, including 50 m (165 ft) of all adjacent streets, will be closed to traffic from 1600 local time (1500 UTC) on 31 December until 0300 local time on 1 January. Traffic and parking restrictions will also be in place in other parts of Paris, including near the Champs de Mars and Eiffel Tower.

Meanwhile, earlier on 29 December, “yellow vest” protests continued across France as demonstrators participated in marches and blocked roads. An estimated 12,000 people participated in the protests nationwide, compared to 40,000 people the previous week. Minor clashes between protesters and police officers occurred in Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes and Rouen; in Paris, protesters threw stones at police officers who responded with tear gas outside the offices of television broadcaster BFM TV and the Parisien newspaper. At least 57 people were detained in Paris. There were no reports of injuries.

Germany (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1540 local time (1440 UTC) on 29 December 2018, a vehicle drove onto the runway at Hannover Airport (EDDV/HAJ). Police officers stopped the vehicle and arrested the lone occupant. Flight operations were suspended until 2000 local time while authorities investigated the incident. Authorities stated that the suspect tested positive for narcotics, but that no dangerous objects were found in the vehicle, and that there were no indications the incident was terror-related. There were no reports of injuries associated with the incident.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Egypt (Security threat level – 4): On 28 December 2018, unidentified militants used an improvised explosive device (IED) to attack a tourist bus on Marioutiyah road near the Pyramids in Giza. The attack killed four people, including three Vietnamese nationals and an Egyptian tour guide. Authorities are investigating the explosion and no group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

In response to the attack, on 29 December Egyptian security forces carried out raids targeting militants in Giza and northern Sinai, killing at least 40 alleged extremists. The militants were purportedly planning to conduct attacks on a variety of targets, including tourist sites, places of worship and government institutions.

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 31 December 2018, a group of Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators blocked several major roads in central Jerusalem. Reports indicate the demonstrators are protesting new laws regarding the conscription of Ultra-Orthodox Jews into military service. Latest reports indicate that police officers are working to disperse the demonstrators. There have been no reports of violence or casualties.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 31 December 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka issued a Security Alert regarding New Year’s celebrations, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • “Event: Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) have issued special instructions for New Year’s Eve celebrations including, but not limited to, prohibiting meetings, gatherings or celebrations on rooftops, roads, flyovers or public spaces, as well as banning the use of fireworks. We strongly advise all U.S. citizens to adhere to these instructions.
  • “We encourage you to remain aware of your surroundings, especially during a holiday season directly following national elections.”

  • Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 31 December 2018, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice regarding Bangladesh’s recent elections which reads in part as follows:

  • “Voting for the Bangladesh National Elections took place on 30 December 2018. During the elections campaigning period there were reports of violence and the use of improvised explosive devices in politically motivated attacks. There were also reports of violence on election day. Political rallies with the potential for disorder, or clashes between groups and with law enforcement agencies, may still take place. You’re advised to avoid large gatherings and political rallies.”

  • Mexico (Security threat level – 4) : On 28 December 2018, the U.S. Consulate General in Hermosillo issued a Message for U.S. citizens, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Sonora State, Mexico
  • “Event: Change in Travel Policy for U.S. Government Employees in Sonora State
  • “U.S. government employees may now travel during daylight hours on Highway 15 south of Hermosillo to points including San Carlos, Guaymas, and Empalme. Employees may not travel south of Federal Highway 16 and east of Highway 15 (below Hermosillo) or to points south of Empalme.
  • “The Department of State has updated the Travel Advisory [see here] for Mexico to reflect this information.
  • “Travel advice for the remainder of Sonora state is unchanged. The travel rating for Sonora state remains at Level 3: Reconsider Travel. There are no additional changes to the November 15, 2018, Travel Advisory for Mexico at this time.”

  • Sierra Leone (Security threat level – 4): On 29 December 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Freetown issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Demonstrations related to political events in Sierra Leone are planned for the central business district of Freetown from December 29-31, 2018.
  • “Gloucester Street, Wallace Johnson Street, Shaika Steven Street, Lamaina Sankoh Street and the State Avenue area are expected to be affected by the demonstrations. Expect traffic congestion and an increased police presence in the area to maintain order.
  • “U.S. government personnel are advised to avoid the central business district during this time period.”

  • Sudan (Security threat level – 5): On 30 December 2018, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Sudan, which reads in part as follows:

  • “There have been calls for further demonstrations, including in Khartoum, on 31 December and 1 January (Sudanese Independence Day). You should avoid protests or large gatherings, observe local curfews and follow the instructions of the relevant authorities. You’re advised to: limit travel, including within/around cities; seek information on the situation in districts you propose travelling to or through before departing; and identify and remain in a place of safety if local circumstances dictate.”

  • 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.