Worldview Security Report – March 14, 2019
14-Mar-19

AMERICAS

Brazil (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0930 local time (1230 UTC) on 13 March 2019, two hooded gunmen opened fire at a school in the city of Suzano, located approximately 50 km (30 mi) from São Paulo. Seven people were killed and nine others were wounded in the shooting. Both gunmen killed themselves following the attack. In addition, prior to entering the school, the gunmen killed one person at a nearby used car business. Authorities deployed a bomb disposal unit to remove a wired suitcase at the scene. Security personnel also seized a handgun, knives, crossbows and Molotov cocktails at the scene. Authorities have not identified a motive for the shooting. The last mass shooting at a school in Brazil occurred in 2011, when a gunman killed 12 students during an attack in Rio de Janeiro state.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 13 March 2019, a winter cyclone brought high winds and heavy snowfall to several central and western states in the U.S. Blizzard warnings were issued for areas in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota; the state of Colorado declared a state of emergency in light of the weather. Schools and businesses were closed across the aforementioned states and there were reports of dozens of weather-related traffic accidents, including one that led to the death of a Colorado state trooper. In addition, at least 2,000 flights were canceled, while another 2,700 were delayed. Denver International Airport (KDEN/DEN) was forced to temporarily close all six of its runways, while Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (KCOS/COS) canceled all incoming flights. Additionally, an estimated 130,000 commercial and residential customers in Colorado lost power. Forecasters expect the storm to weaken on 14 March.

United States / Canada (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 13 March 2019, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) followed the example set by several other civil aviation administrations (CAAs) and temporarily grounded all active Boeing 737 Max 8/9 aircraft registered in the U.S. Earlier in the day, the Canadian Transport Ministry did the same after receiving information it claims raised questions about the similarities between the 10 March crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 and the Lion Air crash that took place in Indonesia in October 2018. Both accidents involved relatively new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. In public comments, the transport minister of Canada noted that flight data from the Ethiopian Airlines crash it received on the morning of 13 March showed “fluctuation in the vertical profile” that was similar to the crash data from the Lion Air flight. The FAA’s declaration alluded to similar findings, citing that “new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today” factored into its decision.

Beginning on 10 March, several CAAs temporarily grounded all 737 Max 8/9 aircraft registered in their countries. Chinese and Indonesian regulators acted first, and in the 48 hours that followed several other regulators announced similar bans; the most prominent one being the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which oversees aviation safety across the EU.

ASIA

Nepal (Security threat level – 3): On 14 March 2019, the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal launched a nationwide strike (bandh) which resulted in disruptions to public transportation and education sectors. The Chand-led group initiated the bandh after the government banned it for being involved in criminal activities.

Multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were located and defused in the cities of Pokhara, Gorkha, Butwal and Hetauda. Several false bomb threats were also reported, including one in Rautahat district which temporarily disrupted transportation along Chandrapur road until authorities confirmed that the suspicious items were not IEDs.

Analyst Comment: It remains unknown if the Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal placed the IEDs; however, it is a possibility, as the group has claimed responsibility for multiple bombings within the past month, and as the devices could serve to enforce the bandh by keeping people off the streets.

EUROPE

Germany (Security threat level – 3): As of 14 March 2019, ground handlers at Hamburg Airport (EDDH/HAM) are participating in a surprise strike, disrupting airport operations. The strike began at 1230 local time (1130 UTC) and is expected to end at 0000 local time on 15 March. Airport authorities announced that at least 48 of 251 flights scheduled during the strike period have been canceled on 14 March, and that further delays and cancellations are possible throughout the day. An airport spokesperson has advised travelers to arrive at the airport early and to only fly with hand luggage if possible. The Ver.di union called for the strike — which involves bus drivers, baggage handlers and aircraft cleaners — as part of an ongoing wage dispute. A Ver.di spokesperson stated that additional strikes are possible before the next round of negotiations, which is set to begin on 20 March.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Malawi / Mozambique (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 14 March 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai was located approximately 410 km (255 mi) northwest of Europa Island in the Mozambique Channel and was moving west-southwest at a speed of 13 kph (8 mph). At that time, the storm was generating maximum sustained winds of 194 kph, with gusts of up to 241 kph. Flooding from Idai has already affected an estimated 843,000 people in Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa, and has resulted in at least 115 deaths, including 66 in Mozambique, 45 in Malawi and four in South Africa. Authorities in Malawi have placed the country on alert in preparation for additional rain and flooding from the storm. Idai is expected to make landfall in central Mozambique as the equivalent of a Category 2 or 3 hurricane late on 14 March or in the early hours of 15 March.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Malawi (Security threat level – 3): On 14 March 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Malawi, which reads in part as follows:

  • “On 8 March 2019, the President of Malawi declared a State of Disaster in areas of southern Malawi affected by heavy floods. The floods have caused at least 45 deaths and more than 80,000 people have been displaced. Tropical Cyclone Idai is forecast to make landfall from the Mozambique channel around 15 March and may bring further strong winds and heavy rain to parts of southern Malawi between 15 and 19 March. If travelling to affected regions, you should take extra care, monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation and follow any advice given by the local authorities. See our Tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you are caught up in a storm.”

  • Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 14 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Yangon issued a Health Alert regarding a case of measles reported at the embassy that reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Yangon City, Yangon Region, Burma
  • “Event: We wish to notify you that there was a reported case of measles in the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma. If you visited U.S. Embassy Rangoon, Burma from March 4 – 9, 2019, you may have been exposed to measles.”

  • Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 13 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Borno State, Nigeria
  • “Event: The U.S. Embassy in Abuja warns U.S. citizens of reports that a terrorist group plans to conduct kidnap operations against unidentified U.S. and European citizens currently located in Borno State, Nigeria. U.S. government personnel are currently prohibited from traveling to Borno and the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory for Borno State is Level 4 – Do Not Travel.”

  • 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.