Worldview Security Report – January 2, 2019
2-Jan-19

AMERICAS

United States / Mexico (Security threat levels – 2 / 4): Early on 1 January 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers fired at least three tear gas canisters at groups of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana. While U.S. authorities stated that they targeted individuals who were throwing rocks and other projectiles at CBP officers stationed at the border, eyewitness reports suggest that migrants responded with rocks only after tear gas was used. CBP officials detained approximately 25 asylum-seekers involved in the incident. There were no reports of casualties.

ASIA

India (Security threat level – 3): On 2 January 2019, protests occurred in the state of Kerala after two women in their 40s entered the Ayyapa temple in Sabarimala, which has continued to ban women between ages 10 and 50 from entering despite a Supreme Court order overturning the ban. Clashes occurred between protesters and police officers in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, as police officers used tear gas and water cannons to attempt to disperse protesters. There were also reports of clashes between supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is against women entering the temple, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which rules Kerala and supports women entering the temple. The protests prompted road closures in some parts of the city. An unspecified number of injuries occurred as a result of the clashes.

Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 1 January 2019, a man deliberately drove a car into a crowd of pedestrians in downtown Tokyo. The attack took place on Takeshita Street — which had been closed to vehicles for New Year celebrations — located in the shopping and tourist district of Harajuku. At least nine people were injured. Police officers detained the assailant immediately following the event. The suspect reportedly told investigators that he had initially tried to set his car on fire, but then drove his vehicle into the crowd of pedestrians after that failed; he also told investigators that he had carried out the attack as a protest against the death penalty.

Vietnam / Thailand / Cambodia (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 3): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 2 January 2019, Tropical Storm Pabuk was located approximately 565 km (350 mi) south-southeast of Ho Chi Minh City. At that time, the storm was moving west at a speed of approximately 9 kph (6 mph), and was generating maximum sustained winds of 65 kph with gusts up to 83 kph. The storm is expected to strengthen over the next several days as it tracks toward the Gulf of Thailand. Heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding are expected in the coastal areas of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

EUROPE

Denmark (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 0735 local time (0635 UTC) on 2 January 2019, a passenger train traveling from Odense to Copenhagen crashed on the Great Belt Bridge, which connects the islands of Funen and Zealand, Denmark’s two main islands. Police officers stated that it is too early to determine what caused the crash but preliminary reports indicate that the accident occurred after heavy winds caused debris from an oncoming freight train to strike the passenger train. At least six people were killed and 16 injured in the crash. Police officers briefly closed the bridge to train and vehicle traffic after the accident; road traffic has since resumed with speed restrictions in place.

Analyst Comment: Since 1 January, strong winds from Storm Alfrida have left more than 100,000 Swedish households and businesses without power. The winds have also forced Danish and Swedish authorities to close numerous roads and bridges, and suspend certain ferry services as a precaution.

Germany (Security threat level – 3): Early on 1 January 2019, a German man drove a vehicle into a crowd of people in a plaza in the center of the city of Bottrop, located approximately 10 km (6 mi) northwest of Essen. At least eight people were injured in the attack. Police officers stated that the driver had also attempted and failed to run over a lone individual in Bottrop prior to the main attack. The driver fled the scene after the attack in Bottrop and attempted to drive into two groups of pedestrians in Essen before police officers detained him. At least one person was injured in Essen. Police officials stated that the man — who displayed signs of mental illness — appeared to have targeted groups of foreigners.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 2100 local time/UTC on 31 December 2018, a man armed with at least two knives attacked bystanders at Manchester’s Victoria railway station. The attacker injured at least three people, including one police officer, before he was detained. Immediately following the attack, authorities temporarily closed the station, disrupting train and tram services in the area. Officials are treating the incident as a terrorism investigation, although the motive for the attack is unclear; authorities also stated that they are considering the suspect’s mental health in their investigation.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Burkina Faso (Security threat level – 4): On 31 December 2018, the federal government declared a partial state of emergency in seven of the country’s 13 administrative regions in response to a militant attack that killed 10 gendarmes and wounded three others in a village near the Malian border on 27 December. Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), an al Qaeda-linked militant group with strongholds in the Sahel, claimed responsibility for the attack. The partial state of emergency affects the provinces of Boucle du Mouhoun, Cascades, Centre-Est, Est, Hauts-Bassins North and Sahel, and will permit security services to restrict freedom of movement and carry out home searches.

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 5) : As of 1 January 2019, internet and SMS text message services remain suspended across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the highly contentious 30 December presidential election. Authorities stated that services were cut to maintain public order after “fictitious” election results started circulating on 30 December. Government officials have indicated that the shutdown will continue until the results of the election are announced on 6 January. Several countries with diplomatic missions in the DRC — including the U.S. and Canada — have issued statements calling on the government to restore telecommunications across the country. Tensions following the election remain high, with widespread allegations of irregularities and intimidation at the polls. The potential for violent civil unrest is a concern ahead of, during and after the announcement of the election results.

Madagascar (Security threat level – 3): On 2 January 2019, thousands of supporters of losing presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana gathered in Antananarivo’s May 13 Plaza to protest against the results of the 19 December run-off election, claiming that they were fraudulent. Police officers fired tear gas to disperse the protesters. There were no reports of injuries. The High Constitutional Court (HCC) is reviewing a petition filled by Ravalomanana challenging Andry Rajoelin’s victory; the court has until 5 January to confirm the results of the presidential election.


GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 5): On 31 December 2018, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Elections took place on 30 December 2018. Provisional results are expected on 6 January 2019, final results will be published on 15 January and the President sworn in on 18 January. The political and security situation for previous electoral cycles has seen sporadic bouts of unrest and violence. In the event of serious unrest, commercial flights may be suspended, roads blocked and borders closed, making it difficult to leave the country. Internet connections and mobile phone networks may have reduced services or be cut off. Schools may be closed. Previous periods of unrest have seen an increased military and police presence in Kinshasa and other major cities, with stop-and-search checkpoints appearing in some areas, especially after dark.”

  • Djibouti (Security threat level – 3): On 31 December 2018, the French Embassy in Djibouti issued updated travel advice for the region of Oued Kalou, located in northwestern Djibouti, which reads in part as follows:

  • “The presence of an armed group has been reported in the Oued Kalou area, near Lake Assal.
  • “It is recommended, in the coming days, to stay on the main roads and not to park in isolated places, including in areas popular with tourists.”


  • 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.