Worldview Security Report – March 15, 2019
15-Mar-19

ASIA

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): On 15 March 2019, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority announced that several roadways would undergo maintenance beginning at 2300 local time (1500 UTC) on 15 March until the morning of 18 March, and that motorists should expect heavy traffic. The affected roads include the southbound lanes of C-5 road and Julia Vargas Avenue intersection, C-5 road and Lanuza Avenue intersection and the north and southbound lanes of C-5 road in front of SM Aura in Taguig City.

AUSTRALASIA

New Zealand (Security threat level – 1): On 15 March 2019, shootings occurred at two mosques located in Christchurch, New Zealand. The violence began when a gunman dressed in military gear and armed with a semi-automatic weapon opened fire at Al Noor Mosque, located on Deans Avenue near Hagley Park in central Christchurch. At least 200 people were inside the mosque when the attack occurred. Witnesses claim that the assailant targeted the men’s prayer room in the mosque, before then moving to the women’s prayer room. Preliminary reports indicate that the gunman fled the scene after the first shooting and then perpetrated the second attack at the Linwood Mosque, located approximately 3 km (2 mi) from Al Noor Mosque. The second attack occurred approximately 45 minutes after the first attack at Al Noor Mosque. At least 100 people were inside Linwood Mosque when the assailant opened fire. During the shootings, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were also found attached to vehicles in the area; both were neutralized. Preliminary reports indicate that at least 49 people have been killed in both attacks, including 41 at Al Noor Mosque, seven at Linwood Mosque, and one other at the hospital. At least 40 people are being treated for injuries.

Authorities have arrested four people in connection with the attack; one has been charged with murder, while one has been released after he was found to not be connected to the attack. The one detainee who has been charged is an Australian national in his late 20s. Preliminary reports indicate that he released a white-nationalist manifesto online prior to the attack and that he streamed the attack live on social media. Authorities have stepped up security in Christchurch, and across New Zealand, as the investigation into the shootings continues. While Christchurch International Airport (NZCH/CHC) remains open, authorities have canceled all regional departure flights for 15 March. Domestic and international flights are continuing at all other airports in the country. Several other countries — including France, the U.K. and U.S. — have stepped up security at mosques and other religious facilities in light of the attack.

South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 15 March 2019, Tropical Depression Three was located approximately 545 km (339 mi) east-southeast of Yap Island, and was moving west at approximately 25 kph (16 mph). It was generating maximum sustained winds of 46 kph with gusts up to 65 kph. Current forecasts predict Tropical Depression Three will make landfall on the Philippines’ Mindanao Island by 19 March.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): “Yellow vest” protests are expected to continue for the 18th consecutive weekend in cities across France on 16 March 2019. Large demonstrations are planned in Paris to mark four months since the protests began on 17 November 2018. Protesters from around the country will gather at Paris’ Gare du Nord, Gare Saint-Lazare, Place du Châtelet and Gare Montparnasse beginning at 1000 local time (0900 UTC); the four demonstrations will then converge to march to the Élysée Palace, the official residence of the French president located in the 8th arrondissement. Demonstrations are also expected near the Arc de Triomphe, on the Champs-Elysées, and at Place de la République, Place du Trocadero, Place de l’Opéra and Place des Fêtes. A Paris police source stated that authorities expect a large mobilization on 16 March similar to yellow vest protests in January, which saw thousands of people participate in demonstrations in the capital. Protests are also planned in other cities, including Bordeaux, Caen, Dijon, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Montpellier, Nevers and Toulouse.
France (Security threat level – 3): On 15 March 2019, customs officials at Paris Gare du Nord and Gare de Lille Europe stations went on strike for the 10th consecutive day, disrupting Eurostar services. Reports indicate that all Eurostar services are delayed out of both stations on 15 March, and at least four trains have been canceled. A Eurostar spokesperson stated that the labor action and associated disruptions are expected to continue through at least 18 March. The customs workers are striking to call for increased pay and better preparations ahead of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, which is currently set to occur on 29 March 2019, but will likely be delayed following a motion in the British Parliament which was passed on 14 March.
United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 14 March 2019, members of the U.K. Parliament voted to seek a delay for the country’s exit from the European Union (EU). The motion was supported by 412 lawmakers, while 202 voted against it. The motion stipulates that Parliament will attempt to agree to a deal by 20 March. If an agreement is reached, Parliament will seek a delay until 30 June; if no agreement is reached, Parliament will seek a longer delay to be determined at a later date. Either delay would require the unanimous agreement of the other 27 EU member states. The U.K. is currently set to leave the EU on 29 March.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Algeria (Security threat level – 4): On 15 March 2019, anti-government demonstrators resumed large-scale anti-government protests in Algiers amid tight security. In an effort to prevent protesters from entering Algiers from other cities, security forces blocked roads from Bouira, Bejaia and Tizi Ouzou. Reports indicate that large crowds of several thousand people have gathered outside la Grande Poste d’Alger, holding signs and chanting anti-government slogans. Thus far, there have been no reports of violence.

Israel / Gaza Strip (Security threat levels – 3 / 5): On 15 March 2019, Israeli military aircraft conducted a series of retaliatory strikes on targets belonging to the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for two militant rocket attacks that targeted Tel Aviv on 14 March. The Israeli military claims that it successfully hit “approximately 100 military targets” belonging to Hamas. At least two people were injured in the strikes.

The 14 March rocket attacks on Tel Aviv involved two Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets, which unidentified militants launched from Gaza toward the Gush Dan area of Tel-Aviv. The Iron Dome air defense system successfully intercepted one of the rockets, while the other landed in an open area. No damage or injuries were reported; however, several people were reportedly treated for shock. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Israeli authorities suspect the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement is responsible for the attacks. For its part, the militant group Hamas has denied it was involved in the attacks, stating that they were part of an effort to undermine Hamas negotiations with the Egyptian government.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Mozambique / Malawi / Zimbabwe (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 4): On 15 March 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall as a Category 4 storm near the port of Beira in Mozambique. The storm damaged homes, and downed trees and electricity cables, leaving 500,000 residents without power and communication services. The nearby coastal town of Chinde, located approximately 400 km (250 mi) northeast of Beira, was also badly damaged. National carrier LAM Mozambique Airlines has canceled all flights to Beira and Chomoio for 15 March. Storm surge has also cut off several villages located along the coastline in the northern Zambezi province. Early reports suggest that at least five people have been injured. The cyclone is expected to move west to Malawi and Zimbabwe over 16-17 March. It is forecast to bring significant rainfall and widespread flooding to the eastern part of Zimbabwe and southern parts of Malawi, and will gradually weaken and then dissipate as it moves over land.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Comoros (Security threat level – 3): On 15 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Madagascar and Comoros issued a Security Alert regarding the elections in Comoros, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Throughout Anjouan and Moheli, Comoros
  • “Event: Upcoming elections raise the potential for internal travel disruption in the Union of the Comoros. In such an event, roads may be blocked and travel off of the islands may become impossible. Embassy employees are prohibited from conducting non-official travel to Anjouan and Moheli from March 22, 2019 to March 26, 2019.”

  • Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 15 March 2019, the U.K. FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) issued updated travel advice for Ethiopia, which reads as follows:

  • “Following the tragic crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 on Sunday 10 March, operations at Bole international airport have returned to normal.”

  • South Africa (Security threat level – 4): On 15 March 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg; 1 Sandton Drive; Sandhurst
  • “Event: The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa is planning to demonstrate outside the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg on Saturday, March 16, 2019, from 10 am until 2 pm. Up to 300 demonstrators are expected to gather at the corner of Sandton and Rivonia Drive. Disruptions to motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic are likely in the vicinity of the Consulate.”

  • Ukraine (Security threat level – 4): On 15 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Kiev issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Kyiv, Ukraine
  • “Event: On Saturday, March 16, a Ukrainian nationalist group plans to demonstrate at Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square (also known as Independence Square), located on Khreschatyk Street near the city center. This group has been linked to violence and public disorder, including clashes with police. Large crowds are expected in the area.”

  • Venezuela (Security threat level – 4): On 15 March 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Venezuela, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Following a prolonged and widespread power cut that affected Caracas and much of the rest of Venezuela from 7 March, the situation is gradually returning to normal. Caracas International Airport is operating normally, although some airlines have adjusted their schedules. Mobile signals and internet are functioning normally. The British Embassy Caracas is open.”

  • Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): On 15 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe issued a Weather Alert regarding Cyclone Idai, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Harare (March 15, 2019)
  • “Event: Cyclone Idai is expected to affect the eastern parts of Zimbabwe between Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. Forecasters expect extremely high winds, heavy rainfall and flooding in the provinces of Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Harare.”

  • 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.