Canada (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 0730 local time (1230 UTC) on 8 January 2020, a shooting occurred at a residence in the Centretown area of central Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Police officers responded to the shooting near the 400 block of Gilmour Street, located approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) south of Parliament Hill, and shut down a stretch of road between Lyon and Kent streets. While the suspect remains at large, authorities have stated that the area is secure and it is not an active shooter situation. One person was killed and at least three others were seriously wounded. Further details regarding the shooting have yet to emerge.
India (Security threat level – 3): On 8 January 2020, millions of demonstrators participated in a 24-hour nationwide labor strike throughout India to protest governmental labor policies and low wages. Workers from a number of sectors — including transportation, energy, finance and agriculture — as well as a large number of students, participated in the work stoppage. Significant disruptions to public transportation occurred in a number of states across the country, including Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal. Demonstrators in Kolkata, West Bengal’s capital, and elsewhere blocked major roads and railway tracks, resulting in disruptions. Minor clashes between riot police officers and protesters occurred in Kolkata; however, no injuries or arrests were reported. At least 10 labor unions representing 250 million employees organized the strike despite government warnings of “consequences” against striking workers. Indian authorities have increasingly privatized state-run firms to combat slowing economic growth; labor activists have denounced the trend, declaring it detrimental to the country’s labor force.
France (Security threat level – 3): Large-scale demonstrations are set to occur throughout France on 9 January 2020 as part of ongoing strikes over pension reforms. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have participated in such previous actions, but turnout is expected to be lower for the upcoming demonstrations, as the number of workers who continue to participate in the strikes has dropped. In Paris, protesters plan to march from the Place de la République to the Church of St. Augustine beginning at approximately 1330 local time (1230 UTC). Authorities are expected to increase security measures in the city due to an increased risk of violence from protesters; these precautionary measures comprise closing down shops along protest routes, conducting precautionary checks on people and increasing police officer presence along protest routes. Travelers in France should avoid all areas where large gatherings are taking place due to the probability of violence during the ongoing protests.
Additionally, air traffic controllers plan to observe a strike across the country from 1900 local time (1800 UTC) on 8 January to 0630 local time on 10 January. The strike is expected to have a significant impact on Toulouse–Blagnac Airport (LFBO/TLS), as aircraft operators have been asked to reduce services by 33% from 0600-2400 local time on 9 January. While there have been no other notable flight cancellations due to the strike, travelers should contact their respective airlines to check the status of their flights.
Iran (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0615 local time (0245 UTC) on 8 January 2020, Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed in a rural area near the city of Parand, located approximately 30 km (20 mi) northwest of Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport (OIIE/IKA), roughly five minutes after departing from the Tehran airport. All 176 people, including 63 Canadian nationals, on board the aircraft were killed as a result of the crash. While Iranian and Ukrainian officials initially determined that the crash was likely the result of mechanical failure, the Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran later stated that officials had not yet ruled out terrorism and/or rocket attacks as potential causes. The Boeing 737-8KV — registration UR-PSR — was en route to Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport (UKBB/KBP) at the time of the accident. Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization has deployed a team of investigators to determine the cause of the crash.
Iraq (Security threat level – 5): In the early morning hours of 8 January 2020, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) fired more than a dozen rockets at Iraq’s Ain Al Asad Air Base (ORAA/IQA) — which also houses U.S. troops — located approximately 190 km (120 mi) northwest of the capital Baghdad in Al Anbar province. The IRGC issued a statement claiming responsibility for launching the surface-to-surface ballistic missiles against the airbase in retaliation for the U.S. targeted killing of IRGC-Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani on 3 January. U.S. officials later confirmed that the missiles had been fired from sites within Iran. U.S. and Iraqi officials stated that there were no reports of casualties resulting from the attack.
Following the Iranian rocket attacks, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a series of Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) prohibiting U.S. civilian aircraft from overflying Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman until further notice. It is currently unknown at what time the FAA might lift these prohibitions.
Meanwhile, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Russia’s Rosaviatsia aviation authority advised their respective commercial airlines to avoid overflying the same areas. Additionally, Air France and Lufthansa airlines have suspended all flight operations over Iraqi and Iranian airspace until further notice. A number of other airlines — including Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and Singapore Airlines — announced that all flights over Iranian airspace would be rerouted until further notice. Other carriers — including Bahrain’s Gulf Air and EgyptAir — have also temporarily suspended flights to and from Baghdad, Iraq.
Jordan (Security threat level – 3): On 8 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Amman issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
"Event: Precautionary Security Measures at U.S. Embassy Amman
"There have been confirmed missile attacks against U.S. military installations in Iraq, and regional tension remains high. Out of an abundance of caution, the Embassy is advising U.S. government personnel to avoid non-essential movements outside the home on January 8, including keeping children home from school. The Embassy remains open."
Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 7 January 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Nigeria, which reads in part as follows: “Following the death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a US strike in Baghdad on 3 January, the Nigerian Inspector-General of Police has placed his forces across the country on high alert because of an increased risk of public disturbance. The British High Commission is not aware of specific threats against British nationals, but you should continue to avoid large crowds and public demonstrations as they can turn violent unexpectedly and at short notice. If you become aware of any nearby unrest or disturbances, you should leave the area immediately. Be aware of your surroundings, remain vigilant and keep up to date with the latest developments, including via the media and this travel advice . ”