Worldview Security Update – March 5, 2020
5-Mar-20

AMERICAS

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On the evening of 4 March 2020, multiple gunmen opened fire in the vehicle parking area, located immediately outside the terminal, at Ciudad Juárez’s Abraham González International Airport (MMCS/CJS) in northern Mexico. The assailants shot and wounded a man as he approached the parking area after arriving at the airport; a witness died of a heart attack. The perpetrators initially escaped in three vehicles, including a pick-up truck that was later found crashed at a nearby location. The shooting temporarily disrupted flight operations at the airport. The U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juárez has since issued a requirement that its personnel coordinate with the consulate’s security officials before undertaking travel to the airport; this requirement is scheduled to be in effect for 24 hours.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0730 local time (0630 UTC) on 5 March 2020, a high-speed train with 348 passengers on board derailed near Ingenheim, located approximately 30 km (20 mi) northwest of Strasbourg. The train reportedly struck a collapsed embankment, causing it to derail. A total of 21 people, including the train operator, were injured in the crash. The train was en route to Paris from Strasbourg. French authorities have opened an investigation to determine the cause of the derailment.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 5 March 2020, U.K. regional airline Flybe ceased operations after filing for bankruptcy. Officials stated that ongoing financial struggles, in addition to reduced flight demand due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, resulted in the bankruptcy. Flybe officials have advised individuals to book alternate flights before arriving to the airport and stated that the airline would not be able to arrange flights for passengers on other carriers. Prior to these most recent events, the airline had been operating more than half of all domestic U.K. flights outside of London.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 5 March 2020, dozens of protesters have gathered in Conakry’s Ratoma commune to protest President Alpha Condé’s efforts to revise the constitution and potentially seek a third term. Police officers have fired tear gas to disperse protesters — who are throwing stones and burning tires and debris — in the Sonfonia and Wanindara districts of Ratoma, which is located in the upper area of Conakry and is a stronghold of the opposition Union des Forces Démocratiques de Guinée (UFDG) party. Thus far, there have been no reports of widespread arrests or injuries amid the clashes.

Elsewhere in Conakry, there is a heavy security presence following the government’s ban on a protest march organized by the opposition National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) coalition. FNDC leaders canceled the planned march through central Conakry — which was to begin at the Tannerie Roundabout in Matoto commune on 5 March and conclude at the Palais du Peuple in Matam commune — after the government stated that it would not authorize the gathering. Despite the cancellation, many businesses along the protest route are closed and additional security personnel and armored vehicles are stationed in areas across the city to deter potential gatherings.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 4 March 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Bangladesh to include the following:

“Throughout 2019 there were several attacks targeting police and security forces in Dhaka and in Khulna city. On 29 February 2020, there was an attack targeting police in Chittagong. These involved the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The Bangladeshi authorities continue to disrupt planned attacks and have made a number of arrests. Some operations against suspected militants have also resulted in fatalities. The Bangladeshi authorities remain at high alert. Increases in security force presence and restrictions on movement may be put in place at short notice. You should remain vigilant, particularly in and around police buildings and other locations with a police or security presence, and follow the advice of local authorities.”

Iran (Security threat level – 3): On 5 March 2020, Global Affairs Canada upgraded its travel advice for Iran to "Avoid all travel” from "Avoid non-essential travel," citing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and increasingly limited departure options for travelers. The updated travel advice reads in part as follows:

"Avoid all travel to Iran due to travel restrictions imposed following the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). It [is] increasingly difficult to leave the country. Additional risks include the volatile security situation, the regional threat of terrorism and the possibility of arbitrary detention."

Additionally, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also warned on 4 March against all travel to Iran, citing the COVID-19 outbreak and increasingly limited air travel options to and from Iran.