Worldview Security Update – August 8, 2019
8-Aug-19

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Multiple protests are planned throughout Hong Kong beginning on 9 August 2019. A sit-in protest is expected to be held in the Arrivals Hall of Hong Kong International Airport’s (VHHH/HKG) Terminal 1 beginning at 1300 local time (0500 UTC) daily between 9 and 11 August. Protesters have pledged to remain peaceful, and previous protests at the facility concluded peacefully, as demonstrators primarily focus on informing foreign travelers of the ongoing protest movement rather than disrupting airport operations. Airport officials have issued a statement claiming that operations will continue as normal and have urged travelers to allow extra time to reach the airport on those days.

Additionally, on 11 August protesters plan to march from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Java Road Playground in Quarry Bay, which is located approximately 3 km (2 mi) to the east. There are also unconfirmed reports that government supporters, including local crime groups, plan to confront protesters during this rally. As a precaution, travelers should avoid the area due to the possibility of violence.

Unconfirmed reports on social media platforms indicate that protesters plan to gather in Wong Tai Sin in Kowloon and Sha Tin in New Territories during the evening of 9 August; Tai Po in New Territories on 10 August, and Shan Shui Po in Kowloon on 11 August. There have also been calls for a non-cooperation movement on 12 August, which initially appeared on the online social news forum LIHKG; this forum has been increasingly used to coordinate demonstrations since the protests began occurring more frequently in June.

Kyrgyzstan (Security threat level – 4): On 8 August 2019, Kyrgyz security forces detained former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev after launching a second raid at his compound in Koi-Tash, located approximately 20 km (12 mi) south of the capital Bishkek. Local sources reported gunfire and clashes between security forces and the former president’s supporters at the compound, although it is not yet clear if anyone was injured in the second round of clashes.

The day prior, security forces initiated the first raid on Atambayev’s compound. Officers reportedly exchanged gunfire with a group of Atambayev’s supporters, who had been residing at the compound for almost a month to provide impromptu security for the former president. Government forces initially managed to breach the compound’s security perimeter; however, Atambayev’s supporters — who were in possession of firearms — overwhelmed them on the second floor, forcing the government forces to retreat. At least six security personnel were taken hostage inside the compound and were later released after government forces retreated from the site early on 8 August. At least one person was killed and 45 people injured during the initial clashes. The raids follow Kyrgyzstan’s decision to revoke the former president’s immunity in June, which paved the way for his prosecution on corruption-related charges.

Pakistan / India (Security threat levels – 5 / 3): On 7 August 2019, Pakistan closed a portion of its airspace in the Lahore Flight Information Region bordering India until 5 September, causing a maximum delay of 12 minutes for overflights through Pakistani airspace. Pakistani officials announced the closure of three out of 11 routes between India and Pakistan shortly after the Pakistani government downgraded diplomatic ties and suspended trade with India; the measures are in response to India’s revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state on 5 August. Increased tensions between India and Pakistan are likely for the foreseeable future, but Pakistani officials have ruled out military response in relation to the issue.

Taiwan / Japan (Security threat levels – 2 / 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 8 August 2019, Typhoon Lekima strengthened to become a super typhoon and was located approximately 400 km (250 mi) southwest of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. At that point, the storm was moving north-northwest away from Taiwan at approximately 19 kph (12 mph) and had maximum sustained winds of 240 kph with gusts of up to 300 kph and waves of up to 15 m in height. The storm is currently forecast to pass over Japan’s southernmost Ryukyu Islands by the early evening hours of 8 August; the outer portions of the storm are projected to move over the northern part of Taiwan, including the capital Taipei. Meteorologists forecast that Lekima will bring strong winds and heavy rains to both areas, which could potentially cause flooding and landslides.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Burkina Faso (Security threat level – 4): On 8 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Youga, near Zabre, Centre-Est

“Event: The U.S. Embassy has received credible information that a security guard working at the Youga mining site shot and killed a local miner on Wednesday, August 7. The local population is upset and has attacked the guards and the installation. We don’t have clarity on the type or magnitude of the attack at this time and advise all Americans to stay clear of the Youga Gold Mine site.”

China (Security threat level – 3): On 7 August 2019, the U.S. Department of State upgraded its travel advisory for Hong Kong from "Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions" to "Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution" due to civil unrest. The updated travel advisory reads in part as follows: "Exercise increased caution in Hong Kong due to civil unrest. 

"Since June 2019, several large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong. Most have been peaceful, but some have turned confrontational or resulted in violent clashes. The protests and confrontations have spilled over into neighborhoods other than those where the police have permitted marches or rallies. These demonstrations, which can take place with little or no notice, are likely to continue."

The full text of the travel advisory can be viewed here .

India (Security threat level – 3): On 8 August 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for India to read in part as follows: “The FCO advise against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of (i) travel within the city Jammu, (ii) travel by air to the city of Jammu, (iii) travel within the region of Ladakh. The tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg, the city of Srinagar and the Jammu-Srinagar national highway are within the areas where the FCO advise against all travel.” Previous advice did not warn against all travel to Srinagar or along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

Iran / United Arab Emirates / Oman (Security threat levels – 3 / 2 / 2): On 7 August 2019, The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued an updated Maritime Advisory, which warns of increased GPS interference linked to Iranian attacks on ships in the Strait of Hormuz. The advisory applies to all ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and the Gulf of Oman. The full text of the advisory is available here

Spain (Security threat level – 3): On 7 August 2019, the U.S. Mission in Spain issued a Security Alert in regards to common criminal techniques used throughout the country, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: U.S. citizens should remain vigilant to the risk of theft and criminal schemes – including pickpocketing in major urban centers and flat tire or pull-over scams on roadways – across Spain.

  • Distraction scams: In one common scheme, thieves may wave your vehicle over to the side of the road to assist with a flat tire or other mechanical issues. While you exit the car to examine the purported flat tire, one of the thieves makes off with your valuables from your unlocked car. In another common scheme, while walking in a tourist area, a stranger may approach and offer to wipe a spill off your clothing, while removing your wallet or other valuables from your pocket or bag. In both of these distraction scams, thieves work in teams to divert your attention from your belongings.
  • Rental cars: We have received numerous reports from U.S. citizen tourists whose rental cars, which in many parts of Spain are identified with a large sticker on the back of the vehicle, were robbed of all valuables while parked at scenic overlooks and other tourist locations.
  • Vacation rentals: Spanish authorities have reported that thieves may be targeting tourists staying in vacation rentals. Thieves use the calendars included for each property listing on online rental platforms to identify the days when the properties are booked. Then, they surveil the properties, waiting for guests to depart so they can steal your passports, cash, jewelry, electronics, and other valuables.

“Citing the frequency of these crimes, Spanish authorities have assigned more law enforcement officers to popular tourist areas during the summer months."