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Worldview Security Update – March 6, 2020


Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): At approximately 1120 local time (0650 UTC) on 6 March 2020, at least two gunmen attacked a high-profile ceremony — organized to commemorate the death anniversary of an ethnic Hazara leader — in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of western Kabul. The assailants reportedly fired a rocket into the area, then began shooting at the crowd, which mainly comprised members of the Hazara minority community. A gunbattle ensued between security personnel and the assailants at a nearby under-construction building and lasted for several hours; security personnel killed both assailants. At least 29 people attending the commemoration were killed and more than 50 others were wounded in the attack, according to Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who was at the event and escaped unhurt along with other politicians, including former President Hamid Karzai. The Taliban have specifically denied any involvement in the attack. In 2019 the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an attack on the same commemoration ceremony, during which 11 people were killed.


Tunisia (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1100 local time (1000 UTC) on 6 March 2020, two suicide bombers on a motorcycle detonated explosive devices targeting a security patrol outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, located in the upscale Les Berges du Lac neighborhood. The explosions killed both attackers and one Tunisian police officer. Four other police officers and one local civilian were also wounded in the attack. Tunisian security forces have secured the scene and are investigating the attack; the Interior Ministry has placed security forces on a state of maximum alert. Thus far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Travelers and expatriates in Tunis should avoid the area and heed the directions of local authorities.


Burkina Faso (Security threat level – 4): On 6 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy issued an Alert regarding a labor gathering in Ouagadougou, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Ouagadougou
“Event: Labor unions and civil society organizations are planning a gathering in Ouagadougou on Saturday, March 7, 2020. The details of the gathering are not yet finalized, but it is anticipated to begin at Bourse du Travail at 0730.

“Exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings. Even large gatherings intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Be alert, remain aware of your surroundings, and stay informed of local media reports.”

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 5 March 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Haiti and raised the level of advice to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” from “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” The updated advisory reads in part as follows:

“Do not travel to Haiti due to crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping.

“Country Summary: Violent crime, such as armed robbery and carjacking, is common. Kidnapping is widespread. Kidnappers may use sophisticated planning or take advantage of unplanned opportunities. Victims have included U.S. citizens.

“Demonstrations, tire burning, and roadblocks are frequent, unpredictable, and can turn violent. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. Emergency response, including ambulance service, is limited or non-existent.

“Travelers are sometimes followed and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince international airport. The U.S. Embassy requires its personnel to use official transportation to and from the airport. Robbers and carjackers have attacked private vehicles stuck in heavy traffic congestion and often target lone drivers, particularly women driving alone."
The full text of the advisory can be found here .

Nicaragua (Security threat level – 4): On 5 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Managua issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: 
“Location:  Managua, Countrywide
“Event: Due to recent policy announcements, U.S. Embassy personnel and temporary duty visitors require special permission to travel outside of their residential neighborhoods and hotels for the next 72 hours. Embassy personnel are not permitted to travel outside of Managua during this period.  The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that demonstrations may occur in Managua or elsewhere in Nicaragua with little or no notice.  Please monitor local media for updates and remember that violence may break out at any demonstration."
Analyst Comment: The U.S. Embassy in Managua is likely employing precautionary measures against potential retaliation after the U.S. government imposed sanctions against the Nicaraguan National Police and three police commissioners for their reported participation in serious human rights abuses. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added the police force and the commissioners to its Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List (SDN) earlier on 5 March.