Worldview Security Update – July 25, 2019
25-Jul-19

ASIA

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 25 July 2019, at least three explosions occurred in eastern Kabul. Reports indicate that a magnetic bomb attached to a bus, which was carrying employees of the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, exploded in the Macrorayan-e-Kohna area of Police District (PD) 16. A subsequent blast occurred when a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle detonated explosives near the vehicle. The third explosion occurred near the industrial park in PD9 — located east of the site of the bombing that targeted the bus – when a militant detonated a car bomb. In total, at least 11 people were killed and approximately 45 others were injured, although the fatality count is likely to rise. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the first two attacks, while the Taliban claimed responsibility for the latter car bomb attack.

China (Security threat level – 3): Activists plan to hold a demonstration against the now-suspended controversial extradition bill at the Arrivals Hall of Terminal 1 in Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH/HKG) from 1300 to 2359 local time (0500 to 1559 UTC) on 26 July 2019. Airport authorities have issued an advisory to travelers, but stated that flight operations would continue as normal. However, it remains unknown how many people plan to attend the demonstration, or what effect it will have on flights scheduled to operate through the facility. Travelers should check with their airlines to determine the status of their flights.

Additionally, on 27 July, a demonstration is planned to take place in Yuen Long in New Territories to protest an attack by crime groups on protesters at Yuen Long MTR station, which occurred on 21 July. While authorities have denied permission to the protest organizers, the latter maintain that it will continue as planned. The number of expected attendees remains unknown, but violence between protesters and local residents — as well as between protesters and police officers — is a concern. As a precaution, travelers should avoid Yuen Long on 27 July.

A protest against alleged police brutality is also scheduled to begin at 1530 local time on 28 July. The demonstrators plan to march from Chater Garden to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park in Sai Ying Pun. The event has received approval from authorities.

Analyst Comment: Travelers and expatriates in Hong Kong should avoid all protests due to the potential for violence. In recent weeks, most organized protests have been relatively peaceful. However, there have been a number of instances in which clashes occurred between small groups of protesters and police officers after the protests concluded.

Japan (Security threat level – 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 25 July 2019, Tropical Depression Seven was located approximately 1,000 km (620 mi) south-southwest of Yokosuka, located in Kanagawa Prefecture. At that point, the storm was moving north at 6 kph (3 mph) and had maximum sustained winds of 56 kph with gusts of up to 83 kph. Current forecasts suggest that Tropical Depression Seven will continue toward Mie prefecture, but will track in an easterly direction before making landfall on 27 July in either Aichi or Shizuoka prefectures.

Kyrgyzstan / Tajikistan (Security threat levels – 4 / 4): On 24 July 2019, clashes broke out between local residents and police officers near the Tajik exclave of Vorukh, located in an area of disputed territory along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. The fighting began when police officers attempted to stop locals from blocking a road connecting Vorukh to the Kyrgyz town of Ak-Sai. Locals attacked police officers with sticks and stones when officers intervened, prompting police officers to use sound grenades to disperse the crowd. There were no reports of injuries.

Tensions have risen between Kyrgyz and Tajik citizens in the area ahead of a planned visit by the presidents of both countries to discuss border demarcations on 26 July. Kyrgyz officials in the Batken region have evacuated more than 650 residents of Ak-Sai for safety and security reasons, after fighting in the area on 22 July resulted in one death. Tajik and Kyrgyz officials have opened a joint investigation into the fighting.

North Korea (Security threat level – 3): During the early hours of 25 July 2019, two short-range ballistic missiles were launched from Wonsan, which is approximately 145 km (90 mi) east of Pyongyang, into the Sea of Japan. Authorities stated that one missile flew approximately 690 km while the other traveled for 430 km. North Korea last conducted weapons tests in May 2019. Defense officials stated that the missiles appeared to be a new variant.

EUROPE

Netherlands (Security threat level – 2): As of 25 July 2019, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (EHAM/AMS) flights continue to experience significant disruptions due to a malfunction in the aircraft refueling system on 24 July. The airport has canceled at least 300 flights and delayed hundreds more due to the malfunction. Airport officials stated that flights are expected to continue to be disrupted throughout the day and warned travelers to check with their airlines about further disruptions. An investigation is being launched into the cause of the refueling system malfunction.

Russia / Ukraine (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 25 July 2019, Ukrainian authorities detained a Russian oil tanker at the Black Sea port of Izmail, located approximately 190 km (120 mi) from Odessa. In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that there would be “consequences” if Russian citizens have been taken hostage. Ukrainian authorities believe that the same Russian tanker was involved in a confrontation near the Kerch Strait in November 2018, in which Russian vessels blocked passage, opened fire on three Ukrainian ships and captured 24 Ukrainian sailors for allegedly illegally entering Russian territorial waters.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Tunisia (Security threat level – 3): On the morning of 25 July 2019, the Tunisian government announced that President Beji Caid Essebsi has died at a military hospital in the capital Tunis. Essebsi — who was 92 years old — was taken to the hospital on the previous day to receive treatment for unspecified medical issues. In June 2019, he was briefly hospitalized after experiencing a “severe health crisis.” Essebsi had served as Tunisia’s president since 2014. According to Tunisia’s constitution, Mohamed Ennaceur — the president of the Assembly of the Representatives of the people — will now serve as the acting president.
Analyst Comment: Details regarding Essebsi’s funeral procession were not immediately available. Essebsi’s death comes at a challenging time in Tunisia. The country has yet to establish the institutional checks and balances — including a constitutional court — which can facilitate a smooth democratic transition. Additionally, the country faces significant economic and political challenges, including high unemployment and a persistent terrorism threat.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 25 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa issued an Alert regarding telecommunications availability, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Ethiopia

"Event: Addis Ababa has normal voice and data services, although some social media sites remain blocked. Voice, SMS, and DSL services are generally available throughout the country, but not cellular data services.

"Because of the telecommunications limitations and the Embassy’s travel restrictions, our ability to support U.S. citizens is limited, especially outside of Addis Ababa.

"Please reconsider travel to Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) due to civil unrest. Refer to travel.state.gov for current Ethiopia travel restrictions."

Gambia (Security threat level – 3): On 25 July 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for The Gambia, which reads in part as follows: "There has been an increase in the number and frequency of protests in The Gambia, primarily in the Kombo districts. You should avoid large gatherings in public areas, and follow the advice of local authorities."

Honduras (Security threat level – 4): On 24 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Honduras, countrywide
“Event: Dengue fever epidemic.
“Dengue fever epidemics occur every four to five years in Honduras due to its tropical and subtropical climates. Currently, Honduras is seeing a sharp increase in cases of dengue fever, especially in children. As a result, the Government of Honduras has declared a state of emergency. “The most affected departments are Cortés, Yoro, Olancho, and Santa Bárbara. Including cases reported in the San Pedro Sula metropolitan area, 75 percent of all cases reported to date originated in northwestern Honduras.”

Jordan (Security threat level – 3): On 25 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Amman issued a Security Alert regarding upcoming disruptions, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Throughout Jordan

"Event: It is expected that the Jordanian Ministry of Education will release the results of the summer high-school exam (the Tawjihi) this weekend. As part of the celebrations, expect congested traffic, more aggressive drivers, and celebratory gunfire. U.S. government personnel are advised to remain indoors on the evening the results are released."

Malawi (Security threat level – 3): On 25 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The Human Rights Defenders Coalition called for mass demonstrations to continue until Malawi Electoral Commission Chair Jane Ansah resigns. Demonstrations [are] planned in several cities/districts on July 25. Looting and violence have occurred during recent demonstrations.”

Peru (Security threat level – 3): On 24 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Lima issued a Demonstration Alert for protests in the Cusco region, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Cusco Region, Peru.

"Event: Peru Rail and Inca Rail both report they are closing stations due to planned protests between today and tomorrow (July 24-25). Protestors are currently marching. Peru’s Tourist Protection Agency (Red de Protección al Turista) reports that Peruvian National Police will be protecting the route between the city of Cusco and the Sacred Valley to permit tourist bus and van travel.

"The following Peru Rail stations are not functional during the protests:

  • San Pedro
  • Poroy
  • Urubamba

"The following Inca Rail stations are not functional during the protests:

  • San Pedro
  • Poroy

"Peru Rail and Inca Rail service will continue to function departing from the Ollantaytambo station."

Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): On 24 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Harare issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: "Over the past several weeks the communication infrastructure in Zimbabwe has been degraded due to power outages, pilferage of cell tower parts, and lack of generator capacity to maintain continuity of networks. Embassy community members have reported the inability to make/receive mobile phone calls. Mobile data services (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, e-mail) have also been unreliable. Desk phones at the embassy including Post One have experienced intermittent inability to make or receive calls. Embassy communications professionals are working on these issues, but the root of these issues is the country-wide telecommunications system, which is not controlled by the embassy.

"If you are unable to reach the Embassy Operator or Duty Officer by phone and it is an emergency, American citizens may call the Operations Center in Washington D.C. for emergency assistance at 202-647-1512."