Worldview Security Update – November 13, 2019
13-Nov-19

AMERICAS

Chile (Security threat level – 2) : Anti-government protests and associated violence continued amid a national strike in Chile on 12 November 2019. In the capital Santiago, several people were injured after police officers fired tear gas and pellets at protesters in Alameda and near Plaza Italia. In addition, police officers fired water cannons at protesters during a peaceful demonstration between the Los Heros and Moneda metro stations. Isolated clashes between protesters and police officers also occurred in Sucre, Talca, Valparaiso and Concepcion. According to police officials, 95 stores were looted across the country overnight on 11-12 November and 325 people were detained in connection with the looting. Additionally, demonstrators attacked 19 police barracks across the country, 11 of which are located in the capital. Officials stated that at least 341 police officers and 46 civilians were injured in the violence. 

Mexico / Italy (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): On 12 November 2019, the Mexican Navy stated that armed pirates attacked an Italy-flagged platform supply ship, located off Ciudad del Carmen, in the southern Gulf of Mexico the previous day. Approximately eight armed pirates arrived aboard two vessels, entered the ship and momentarily held the 35 crew members hostage as they stole valuables from the crew and ship. At least two crew members were injured during the robbery, one of whom suffered gunshot wounds. Following the attack, the supply ship anchored at the Ciudad del Carmen port, where the wounded crew members received treatment at a nearby hospital. The vessel belongs to the Italian offshore contractor Micoperi. Italian Embassy officials are collaborating with the Mexican government to investigate the attack.

ASIA

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On the morning of 13 November 2019, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) detonated in the Qasaba area of Kabul’s Police District 15. Local reports indicate that the blast targeted a vehicle owned by GardaWorld, a Canadian security firm, and killed at least seven local employees. At least 10 others, including four foreign personnel, were also wounded. No group claimed responsibility for the attack; however, both the Taliban and the Islamic State actively target foreign entities in Kabul.

China (Security threat level – 3): As of late on 13 November 2019, clashes between police officers and anti-government protesters are ongoing during the third consecutive day of violent protests in Hong Kong. Police officers fired tear gas at protesters gathered along Tai Po Tai Wo Road in Tai Po. Protesters have also blocked roads in Mong Kok with bricks and umbrellas, and set fire to an electrical box. Along Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long, protesters were vandalizing light rail tracks. Reports indicate that security forces have fired tear gas in Yuen Long, Tai Shui Hang, Sheung Shui, Sai Wan Ho, Tuen Muen, Tin Shui Wai and Mong Kok. In Sai Wan Ho, police officers used an armored vehicle to clear a roadblock. Meanwhile, protesters set up roadblocks near Baptist University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and along major roads in Central, where protesters damaged some traffic lights. Protesters also erected roadblocks along major thoroughfares in Kowloon Tong, Yuen Long and Tai Po at various times throughout the day. The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) suspended all services at 2200 local time (1400 UTC). However, some stations closed earlier due to unrest, which caused severe traffic delays and extensive wait times for travelers.

Protesters also threw Molotov cocktails from the Number 2 Bridge — which they have occupied since 11 November — near the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In view of the ongoing unrest, the Chinese University of Hong Kong announced the termination of classes for this semester; classes for the next semester are scheduled to begin in January 2020. In addition, Baptist University suspended all classes until the end of the term on 3 December. Meanwhile, most of the other universities, including the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Hang Seng University, have canceled classes for the remainder of the week. The High Court dismissed a request to grant an injunction preventing police officers from entering university campuses without warrants. However, at this time, there are no indications that police officers will imminently attempt to clear campuses which students have occupied for multiple days. Other primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong will be closed on 14 November.

In a related development, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has reportedly organized a meeting with senior government officials at her residence to discuss the ongoing unrest.

EUROPE

Italy (Security threat level – 3): On the night of 12 November 2019, a high tide and strong winds caused significant flooding in Venice. Water levels peaked at approximately 1.8 m (6 ft), flooding roughly half of the city and causing notable damage to businesses and watercraft; in addition to Saint Mark’s Basilica, the adjacent Saint Mark’s Square was inundated by more than 1 m of water. Local authorities have asked for a declaration of a state of emergency as flooding is expected to continue for the next several days due to storms. At least one person was killed during the flooding and ferry transportation has been severely disrupted due to damage to five ferryboats.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 12 November 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Bolivia, in which it upgraded its level of advice to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” from “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” due to civil unrest. The updated Travel Advisory reads in part as follows:

“Do not travel to Bolivia due to civil unrest.

“On November 12, 2019, the Department ordered the departure of family members and authorized the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees due to ongoing political instability in Bolivia. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Bolivia.”

“There are recurring demonstrations, strikes, roadblocks, and marches in major cities in Bolivia. Roadblocks and strikes cut off traffic on main avenues, highways between cities, and airport access. Protesters in major cities are intermittently occupying or blocking access to public institutions and infrastructure, denying access to transportation hubs, banks, and other services. Some protests have resulted in violent confrontations, and local authorities have used crowd control measures to discourage protests.

“Domestic and international flights may be delayed or cancelled, and road travel around and between cities is regularly impeded.”

The full text of the Travel Advisory can be found here .

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): On 13 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Indonesia regarding the likelihood of terrorist attacks, which reads in part as follows: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Indonesia. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country. Types of attacks have included suicide bombing and small-arms fire, targeting public and crowded places. Be vigilant and take care at all times.”