Worldview Security Update – August 5, 2019
5-Aug-19

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2): At 0105 local time (0505 UTC) on 4 August 2019, a 24-year-old man armed with a .223-caliber rifle opened fire near Ned Peppers bar, located on East 5th Street in the Oregon District in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Police officers patrolling the area responded to the shooting and immediately shot and killed the masked gunman as he attempted to enter the crowded bar. The gunman killed nine people and wounded 27 others during the episode, which lasted for less than one minute. While at least 15 of those wounded were discharged from the hospitals by the late morning hours, others continue to receive medical treatment. The gunman was wearing body armor and had extra ammunition for the rifle with high-capacity magazines, which could hold at least 100 rounds of ammunition. Local officials and the FBI are investigating to determine a possible motive for the shooting.

United States (Security threat level – 2): Overnight on 2-3 August 2019, a power outage temporarily shut down operations at Southern California’s John Wayne Airport (KSNA/SNA), located approximately 35 mi (55 km) south of Los Angeles. A fire broke out at a power substation in the city of Irvine on the evening of 2 August, causing blackouts at all three terminals of the airport. Airport officials then imposed a ground stop for all commercial flights to and from the airport until 0700 local time on 3 August, during which all outbound flights were canceled and inbound flights were diverted to nearby airports. However, general aviation flights were not affected.

United States (Security threat level – 2): In the late morning hours of 3 August 2019, a 21-year-old man armed with a military-grade assault rifle opened fire inside a crowded Walmart store, located adjacent to the Cielo Vista Mall, in eastern El Paso, Texas. The shooting caused panic among patrons at the store and the nearby shopping mall, prompting them to take cover or flee. Following the shooting, the local police department stated that there were reports of multiple gunmen in the area. Officers from several law enforcement agencies then conducted security searches, during which the sole gunman surrendered to the officers without resistance. In total, there were 20 fatalities and 26 injuries in the attack. U.S. officials are investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism; the suspected gunman reportedly posted a racist, anti-immigrant screed on an online platform shortly before perpetrating the killings.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): As planned, a citywide general strike is ongoing in Hong Kong on 5 August 2019. Transportation services remain significantly disrupted across the city and anti-government protesters have obstructed the Cross-Harbor Tunnel, Lion Rock Tunnel and Eastern Harbor Tunnel. Clashes between protesters and police officers have also intermittently continued throughout the day. The most recent reports indicate that government supporters were engaged in clashes with protesters in the North Point area of Eastern District. Earlier in the day, police officers fired tear gas at protesters gathered outside the Tin Shui Wai police station, on Nam Wan road in Tai Po district, on Lung Cheung Road in Wong Tai Sin, on Harcourt Road and Tim Wa Avenue in Admiralty, and outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station. Demonstrators threw eggs and rocks at police officers in several locations. Additionally, protesters vandalized a police vehicle in a separate incident on Yeung Uk road in Tsuen Wan, but no clashes were reported at this location. There have been no reports of significant injuries. At least eight Mass Transit Railway (MTR) lines suspended services earlier in the day, including the Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, East Rail and West Rail lines. While the MTR services have since resumed, travelers should anticipate lingering disruptions.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong international Airport (VHHH/HKG) canceled more than 250 flights scheduled to operate through the facility; most of the canceled flights are with local carriers Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines. Additionally, approximately 100 demonstrators gathered at the airport to reiterate the primary demands of the protesters. Airport officials have urged travelers to prepare for continued disruptions until 0600 local time on 6 August (2200 UTC on 5 August). Travelers should contact their airlines to check the status of their flights.

Additionally, there were clashes between protesters and police officers over the weekend on 3-4 August. On 4 August police officers fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district. Demonstrators threw rocks and eggs at the police station in the Tseung Kwan O residential district and damaged several windows of the building. Peaceful demonstrations outside of China’s Liaison Office preceded the clashes. Overnight on 3-4 August, police officers detained at least 20 protesters.

On 3 August police officers fired tear gas at protesters who surrounded the Tsim Sha Tsui police station, located in Kowloon. The demonstration began in the Mong Kok district area and protesters temporarily blocked access to the Cross-Harbor Tunnel. According to police officers, protesters also started fires and threw bricks at the police station. However, there were no reports of injuries.

India (Security threat level – 3): On 5 August 2019, the Indian government introduced a presidential decree revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state. The country’s home minister introduced the measure in the parliament alongside a bill that would divide the region into two union territories, with one to be called Ladakh and the other Jammu and Kashmir. Under the proposal, Ladakh would not have a state legislature while Jammu and Kashmir would maintain a state legislature. The measures have prompted widespread criticism and warnings of civil unrest in the region.

Shortly before the announcement on 4 August, Indian authorities placed several state politicians, including former chief ministers, under house arrest and suspended telecommunications and internet services in the region. Security forces maintain blockades in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, and other towns in the region using steel barricades and razor wires. Additionally, on 2 August officials advised travelers in the region to evacuate due to an increased risk of terrorist attacks.

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1200 local time (0500 UTC) on 4 August 2019, a large-scale power outage hit the capital Jakarta and surrounding areas in West Java and Banten provinces. The blackout disrupted road traffic and train services on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) railway system in the capital. However, operations at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (WIII/CGK) and public hospitals were uninterrupted, as they used back-up generators. Electricity was fully restored in most of the capital and surrounding areas by the late hours of the day. The state-owned power company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) attributed the blackout to technical issues with transmission circuits on the Ungaran to Pemalang power line in Central Java province. Although power outages are not infrequent in Jakarta, this episode was notably long and affected large parts of the capital and surrounding areas.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 3 August 2019, demonstrators gathered in the city of Nantes to protest police violence and demand answers to the unexplained death of a person who attended a 21-22 June concert, during which police officers clashed with concert-goers. Approximately 1,700 people marched to the police headquarters and set up barricades and smashed windows of the building. Police officers responded with tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters. At least 40 protesters were arrested and two others were injured during the confrontation. Government officials stated that they were investigating the death of the concertgoer, who disappeared following the event on 21-22 June before his body was later found in the Loire River.

Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 3 August 2019, police officers detained more than 1,000 protesters during an unsanctioned rally along the Boulevard Ring in central Moscow. Approximately 1,500 people participated in the event, which lasted for almost four hours and was organized by the opposition to protest the exclusion of at least 30 opposition candidates from the upcoming 8 September local elections. Riot police officers used batons to assault several of those detained and to disperse the crowd. Meanwhile, approximately 2,000 people held a concurrent rally in St. Petersburg to support Moscow protesters. Opposition leaders have announced plans for an additional protest on 10 August.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 2): On 4 August 2019, employees of Heathrow Airport (EGLL/LHR) suspended a strike that was scheduled to occur on 5 August, but announced their intention to proceed with the 24-hour walkout on 6 August. Unite union has stated that approximately 2,500 union members — including operations engineers, security staff and passenger service staff — are expected to walk out over a pay dispute with the airport. Following the suspension of the 5 August strike, approximately 140 of the initially canceled 177 flights have been reinstated; however, flight disruptions are expected due to the planned 6 August walkout. Airport officials are expected to continue negotiations with Unite in an effort to annul the strike on 6 August. Travelers should check with their airlines to determine the status of their flights.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Egypt (Security threat level – 4): On 4 August 2019, an explosion caused a fire outside Cairo’s National Cancer Institute after a car traveling in the wrong direction on Nile Corniche Street collided with several others. Following the explosion, hospital staff and patients were evacuated as a precaution. At least 19 people were killed and approximately 30 others were injured in the explosion. While initial reports stated that the explosion occurred after an oxygen tank aboard the vehicle detonated, Egyptian authorities are now saying that the vehicle which initiated the accident was carrying explosives in preparation for a terrorist attack. The intended target of the attack remains unclear, and no group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On the morning of 5 August 2019, security forces clashed with protesters who had gathered near the National Stadium in Lagos’ Surulere district as part of planned “Revolution Now” protests. Police officers erected barriers near the stadium’s entrance and fired tear gas to disperse a group of protesters and arrested several of them for unlawful assembly. There were no reports of significant injuries during the clashes. Authorities had banned the 5 August protest, stating that it was aimed at subverting the government. Omoyele Sowere — a human rights activist and opposition candidate who ran in the February 2019 presidential election — organized the protests; authorities arrested and charged Sowere with sedition on 3 August.