Worldview Security Update – May 28, 2019
28-May-19

AMERICAS

Argentina (Security threat level – 3): On 27 May 2019, Aerolineas Argentinas announced the cancellation of all its domestic and international flights on 29 May due to a nationwide labor strike. Authorities stated that passengers with flights scheduled with the airline on 29 May are able to refund or rebook their flights through the carrier. An estimated 37,000 passengers will be affected by the cancellations. The General Confederation of Labor (CGT) — Argentina’s largest labor union — is organizing the upcoming 24-hour nationwide strike to protest government austerity measures.

Brazil (Security threat level – 3): On 24 May 2019, Brazil’s civil aviation regulator ANAC suspended all flights and operations of Avianca Brasil “as a precautionary measure” due to safety concerns. ANAC reported that flights will remain suspended until the airline proves it is able to operate safely. Avianca Brasil is required to reimburse or rebook customers who have existing reservations with the airline with other carriers. The airline had been operating approximately 30 flights per day at the time of the suspension. Avianca Brasil filed for bankruptcy in December 2018 and had canceled more than 1,000 flights since April 2019 and lost most of its fleet. As of 29 April, the airline had reduced operations to only four airports in Brazil, including São Paulo–Congonhas Airport (SBSP/CGH), Santos Dumont Airport (SBRJ/SDU), Brasilia International Airport (SBBR/BSB) and Salvador-Deputado Luís Eduardo Magalhães International Airport (SBSV/SSA).

Peru / Ecuador (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): At approximately 0240 local time (0740 UTC) on 26 May 2019, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck Peru’s northern Loreto region. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake was centered approximately 180 km (112 mi) east of Moyobamba and was measured at a depth of approximately 110 km. Shaking was felt across parts of Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. At least two people were killed and at least 30 others were injured in the aftermath of the quake. There were widespread reports of structural damage throughout the affected region, including to more than 50 homes, several hospitals, clinics, churches, schools, two bridges and local roads, in addition to power outages and water shortages.

ASIA

Japan (Security threat level – 1): At approximately 0745 local time on 28 May (2245 UTC on 27 May) 2019, a man armed with a knife attacked pedestrians at a park in the city of Kawasaki, located approximately 18 km (11 mi) southwest of central Tokyo. Police officers apprehended the attacker, who later died from self-inflicted wounds. At least three people, including the assailant, were killed and 16 injured in the attack. Authorities did not ascertain the attacker’s motives.

In a separate event on 28 May, a man armed with a knife in Saitama City, which is located approximately 25 km north of Tokyo, attempted to attack police officers as they approached him. The officers shot and killed the suspect. There are no indications that the two events were related.

Nepal (Security threat level – 3): On 26 May 2019, three separate explosions occurred in the capital city Kathmandu. The first blast occurred in the Sukedhara neighborhood, located in the northern part of the city. Several minutes later, a second explosion occurred inside a residence in the central Ghattekulo neighborhood. A third blast occurred several hours later in the Thankot area, located in the southwestern outskirts of the city. Authorities stated that the third explosion was likely accidental, as two individuals suspected of involvement in the attack were attempting to transport the explosive materials that detonated. Authorities secured the sites of the explosions and defused additional explosives in the Koteshwor, Satdobato, New Buspark, Gwarko and Lagankhel neighborhoods of the capital. In total, at least four people were killed and nine others were injured; authorities believe they were all Nepali nationals. Police officers arrested at least 12 suspects in connection with the attack and are reportedly maintaining a heavy presence with patrols throughout the city.

The Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal — a Maoist splinter group — claimed responsibility for the attack. Tensions between the government and the Communist Party of Nepal are currently elevated. The group, whose activities were recently banned by the Nepali government, continues to demand the government’s release of several detained party members and called for a nationwide general strike on 27 May to further pressure the government. Local reports indicated that people largely adhered to the strike. Most schools and businesses were closed, and traffic was minimal in large cities.

EUROPE

Belgium / France (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): On 25 May 2019, approximately 12,500 people participated in “yellow vest” protests across France. The demonstrations garnered an even lower number of attendees than the “yellow vest” protests on 18 May, which were attended by approximately 15,500 participants. In Paris, approximately 2,100 demonstrators marched from Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement to Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement. Demonstrators clashed with police officers at the Place de la République, where police officers fired tear gas after protesters threw projectiles. Police officers also fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the northern city of Amiens after protesters threw projectiles at the Hôtel Le Carlton and a nearby bank. No injuries were reported during the clashes.

On the following day, several hundred “yellow vest” protesters demonstrated in Brussels, Belgium. Police officers fired pepper spray at a group of demonstrators who reportedly threw projectiles and damaged police barricades. Police officers arrested an estimated 350 protesters during the gathering. There were no reports of injuries among protesters or police officers.

France (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1730 local time (1530 UTC) on 24 May 2019, a package bomb explosion occurred near the intersection of Rue Victor-Hugo and Rue Sala, located in close proximity to Place Bellecour, in Lyon’s 2nd arrondissement. At least 13 people were injured in the blast. Police officers arrested four suspects in connection with the bombing on 27 May. France’s anti-terrorism unit continues to investigate the bombing.

Netherlands (Security threat level – 2): As of 28 May 2019, a 24-hour strike by regional and city public transportation unions has caused significant transportation disruptions across the country. The strike has affected nationwide bus, ferry, rail and tram services. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (EHAM/AMS) reported at least 80 canceled flights and continued delays. High speed rail services to Belgium and Germany have also been disrupted, as well as Eurostar services to London. The strike was launched to demand an improved pension plan and for the retirement age to be frozen at the age of 66. Security staff at Schipol Airport announced an additional strike for 29 May and continued disruptions at the facility are therefore expected.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sudan (Security threat level – 5): As of 28 May 2019, a 48-hour general strike by public and private sector workers in Sudan has caused significant transportation disruptions across Khartoum. Flight disruptions, including cancellations and delays, have been reported at Khartoum International Airport (HSSS/KRT). There are also widespread reports of disruptions to ground transportation across Khartoum. In addition, demonstrations are ongoing across the city in conjunction with the strike; there have been no reports of violence thus far. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) called the strike in an effort to pressure officials from the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to transfer power to civilian leadership. The strike is scheduled to last until 30 May.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Argentina (Security threat level – 3): On 28 May 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Argentina, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Widespread trade union strikes are planned for Wednesday 29 May across Argentina. Strikes are expected to affect public transport, public services and national and international flights. Some roads may be blocked. Check with your airline if you have flights booked for 29 May. Avoid large gatherings, monitor local media and follow the guidance of local authorities.”
  • Malawi (Security threat level – 3): On 27 May 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Malawi, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Malawi held Tripartite Elections (Presidential, Parliamentary and local council) on 21 May 2019. The official result of the Presidential Election was announced by the Malawi Election Commission on the evening of 27 May. There is a possibility of unrest in the coming days. We advise all British nationals in Malawi to avoid large crowds or demonstrations and to review local travel plans. You may also wish to stock up on petrol, food and essentials, including any medication, in case normal service provision are disrupted in the short term.”
  • Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 24 May 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued updated travel advice for Nigeria, which reads in part as follows:

  • “The formal inauguration of President Buhari will take place on Wednesday 29 May in the country’s capital, Abuja. The celebrations around his inauguration will take place on Nigeria’s Democracy Day, Wednesday 12 June. Significant traffic and airline disruption on both days are likely, particularly in Abuja.
  • “Secessionists in South East Nigeria have called on their supporters to stay at home on 30 May 2019. Previous similar protests have seen widespread closure of businesses, and there may be protests and outbreaks of violence. Be especially vigilant in Abia State, Anambra State, Ebonyi State, Enugu State, Imo State, and the cities of Asaba in Delta State and Port Harcourt in Rivers State. There may also be similar public demonstrations and protests on the days around 30 May 2019.”
  • Security threat levels range from 1 (Very Low) to 5 (Very High) and are determined using a comprehensive system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The primary factors used to determine a location’s security threat level are Armed Conflict, Crime, Demonstrations/Strikes, Ethnic/Sectarian Tensions, Graft/Corruption, Kidnapping, Political Instability, Government Restriction and Terrorism.