China (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1615 local time (0815 UTC) on 18 December 2019, a double-decker bus operated by the Kowloon Motor Bus Company (KMB) crashed into a tree along Fanling Highway in Sheung Shui, located in Hong Kong’s New Territories. Firefighters and other emergency personnel responded to the scene to rescue trapped passengers from the crash site. At least six passengers were killed and approximately 40 others suffered injuries. Investigators have not yet ascertained the cause of the crash.
France (Security threat level – 3): On 18 December 2019, trade unions across France entered the 14th consecutive day of their strike action against a proposed pension reform. Ground transportation services are significantly disrupted throughout the country as public transportation workers continue to strike. National rail operator Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) and Paris public transport provider Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) continue to operate significantly reduced services. Approximately 80% of railway services were canceled for the day, specifically long distance TGV trains were operating at 33% of normal capacity and Transport express regional (TER) trains were at 30% capacity. Public transportation in Paris remains very limited, with most services on the Paris Metro and the Réseau Express Régional (RER) only available during rush hour. Additionally, union leaders have warned of further disruptions to the flow of electricity after cutting power to 50,000 homes in Bordeaux and 40,000 homes in Lyon on 16 and 17 December. Significant disruptions are expected to continue through 22 December and likely through the upcoming Christmas holiday, although union leaders and government officials are expected to continue talks through the week.
On 17 December approximately 615,000 people participated in nationwide protests, during which violence broke out between police officers and protesters in several cities. In Lille, a small explosive device was thrown at police officers during the demonstration. Police officers spotted the explosive device and evacuated people from the immediate vicinity before the device detonated. No injuries occurred due to the blast. In Paris, at least 76,000 people joined the protests. Violence occurred in the Place de la Nation after protesters threw projectiles at police officers, who responded with tear gas. Officials arrested at least 27 people during the demonstration in Paris. No additional large-scale demonstrations have been announced, but accompanying protests are expected to continue until the strike concludes.
Guinea-Bissau (Security threat level – 4): On 18 December 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Guinea-Bissau, which reads in part as follows: “Guinea-Bissau suffers from political instability. The country held the first round of Presidential Elections on 24 November and is scheduled to hold a second round on 29 December. Ahead of these elections, there has been an increase in civil unrest, street demonstrations and large public gatherings, which you should avoid. You should exercise a high degree of caution should you decide to travel to Guinea-Bissau. In the event of any political unrest you should follow the advice of local authorities.”
Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 17 December 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“There have been reports of harassment when departing the Lekki Market parking area. Incidents have included a group of locals aggressively demanding more money for parking fees. They have thrown wood barriers into the path of the vehicles, pounded on the windows, and attempted to open doors.
“Actions to Take: Please exercise extra situational awareness if you choose to visit this area and inform drivers to coordinate parking fees before parking in areas around Lekki market. Please remain vigilant since incidents can still occur after parking coordination is made.”
Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 18 December 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued updated travel advice that reads in part as follows:
“On 16 December 2019, a bomb exploded outside the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and Peshawar High Court. The FCO continue to advise against all travel to the city of Peshawar.
“From 11 to 23 December 2019, the Sri Lanka cricket team will be playing in various locations across Pakistan. From 19 to 23 December 2019 they will be visiting Karachi. For more information on sporting events, see Terrorism . As per that advice, increased security measures will be in place. You should be extra vigilant at all times, follow the advice of security personnel and minimise your exposure to areas that pose a higher risk.”
United Arab Emirates (Security threat level – 2): On 18 December 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: United Arab Emirates, countrywide
"Event: New Year’s celebrations will take place throughout the UAE over the coming weeks. Road closures throughout the emirates will restrict movements, particularly in areas where large crowds are expected. U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when attending large, public holiday events, visiting tourist sites, using public transportation, and frequenting places of worship, restaurants, hotels, and other public locations. Be aware of your immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds, when possible. If you find yourself in a crowded area, think through in advance the quickest way to remove yourself on short notice, if necessary. Police officers will likely be conducting regular identification checks, especially near tourist attractions and large gatherings. You should carry proper identification at all times.”