Worldview Security Update – November 7, 2019
7-Nov-19

AMERICAS

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): As of the morning of 7 November 2019, protesters have dispersed from El Alto International Airport (SLLP/LPB) following clashes between pro- and anti-government demonstrators outside the facility on the previous night. During the clashes, pro-government supporters blocked the entrances and exits to the airport. Domestic flights continued to operate as normal during the incident, although several international flights were canceled.

Earlier in the day on 6 November, suspected pro-government demonstrators gathered outside the airport in an attempt to prevent opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho from leaving the facility. Camacho arrived in La Paz to deliver a pre-written resignation letter to President Evo Morales on the previous day, but protesters prevented him from leaving the airport.

Meanwhile, police officers deployed tear gas to disperse crowds near Plaza Murillo and along Loayza and Mercado streets in downtown La Paz. There were no reports of injuries or arrests. Elsewhere in the country, clashes broke out in the city of Cochabamba earlier in the day. Pro- and anti-government protesters armed with sticks, stones, firecrackers and other projectiles clashed with one another along Avenida Oquendo, near Bush Square. One student was killed during the violence.

In a related development on 6 November, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advisory for Bolivia regarding potential aviation-related disruptions due to ongoing protest activity. Additional details are available in the Government Warnings section below.
Chile (Security threat level – 2): On 7 November 2019, firefighters and protesters plan to stage a demonstration at 1700 local time (2000 UTC) in the Plaza La Loba in downtown Talca, located approximately 245 km (150 mi) northwest of Concepción. The demonstration is meant to protest against the detention of a firefighter who attempted to help individuals affected by tear gas in the city on the previous day. While there are no additional protests scheduled in Chile on 7 November, sporadic protests are likely to occur countrywide. A large protest is scheduled to take place at the Plaza Italia in Santiago on 8 November at 1800 local time.

Demonstrations continued across the country on 6 November. Incidents of vandalism and clashes between security forces and protesters continued in major cities countrywide during the evening. In Talca, police officers fired tear to disperse protesters at the Plaza de Armas. Meanwhile, security forces fired water cannons to disperse protesters in La Serena. Vandalism incidents and protests occurred in several cities, including Chillán, Puerto Montt, Renca, Santiago, Temuco and Valparaíso. At least five police officers were injured and 22 people were arrested in Renca.

Earlier in the day, security personnel in downtown Santiago deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse a large group of protesters outside the Costanera Center, the country’s largest shopping mall, after demonstrators threw rocks at law enforcement personnel. Meanwhile, in Concepción, security officers fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters at the intersection of Avenida O’Higgins and Castellón during the afternoon hours.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Multiple demonstrations are planned in Hong Kong between 8 and 10 November 2019. Between 2000 and 2200 local time (1200 and 1400 UTC) on 8 November demonstrators plan to hold a screening of the South Korean film “A Taxi Driver” outside the Tai Kok Tsui Market in Tai Kok Tsui. Additionally, a demonstration is planned from 1500-2130 local time on 9 November at Edinburgh Place in Central to celebrate the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Organizers have applied for a Letter of No Objection. However, if authorities deny them permission, organizers may change the venue or continue at Edinburgh Place, which could increase the risk of police intervention.

In a related development on 7 November, an armed assailant interrupted a peaceful protest by student graduates at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The assailant — a mainland Chinese student — confronted protesters while wielding a knife; the assailant later stated that the knife was meant for self-defense. Campus security later escorted the student away from the protest. At least 1,000 graduates bearing pro-democracy banners and wearing facemasks in protest of the recent ban on such masks attended a graduation ceremony and marched through the campus.

India / Bangladesh (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): As of 0900 UTC on 7 November 2019, Tropical Cyclone Matmo, also known as Cyclone Bulbul, was located approximately 655 km (405 mi) east-southeast of Visakhapatnam, India, and was tracking northward at 13 kph (8 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, Matmo was generating maximum sustained winds of 102 kph, with gusts of up to 130 kph. Current forecasts predict the storm will make landfall along the border of India and Bangladesh by 11 November. Matmo is expected to bring heavy rainfall to the Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore and Bhadrak districts of India’s Odisha state beginning on 10 November as it approaches land.

Vietnam / Philippines (Security threat levels – 3 / 4) : As of 0900 UTC on 7 November 2019, Tropical Storm Nakri — known as Quiel in the Philippines — was located approximately 1,015 km (630 mi) east-southeast of Da Nang, Vietnam, and was tracking eastward at 4 kph (2 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, Nakri was generating maximum sustained winds of 102 kph, with gusts of up to 130 kph. The storm intensified during the morning on 7 November and is predicted to strengthen to a typhoon within the next 48 hours. At this time, Nakri has remained stationary in the West Philippine Sea but is expected to make landfall in Vietnam by 10 or 11 November. The storm brought heavy rainfall to the Babuyan Islands and Cagayan, Philippines. At least two people were killed and approximately 3,500 more were affected by severe flooding.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Burkina Faso (Security threat level – 4): On 6 November 2019, a group of suspected Islamist militants ambushed a convoy composed of staff members of Semafo — a Canadian-based mining company — as the convoy was traveling from Fada to its mine site in the rural commune of Boungou, located in Burkina Faso’s Est region. The gunmen opened fire on the five buses in the convoy — which was being escorted by the military — after the lead vehicle struck an improvised explosive device (IED). At least 37 people were killed, and more than 60 others were injured; several dozen others are still reported as missing. According to security sources, the aforementioned casualty toll does not include casualties among security forces. The nationalities of the victims in the attack were not released to the public; however, reports suggest that the buses were transporting local staff. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Analyst Comment: The most recent attack on Semafo is the third and the deadliest to target the mining company in Burkina Faso since 2018. It is also the third to occur along the same route in the Est region; one of the attacks did not directly involve Semafo. Following two previous attacks in August 2018, one of which occurred along the route between Fada and the mine site in Boungou, Semafo significantly increased its security measures, particularly for its expatriate workers. The attack also illustrates the increasing terrorist threat in Burkina Faso, which has notably expanded in the northern and eastern regions in recent years. Although militants in the region commonly stage attacks on security forces, such large-scale, coordinated attacks on foreign companies are less common. Armed bandits are also active in the region, further compounding security risks.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 6 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Bolivia, which reads in part as follows: “If you’re traveling by air, be prepared for possible disruption to flights and access to airports. El Alto airport in La Paz is especially likely to see disruption, including protests within the airport and limited ground transport to the city. If you’re arriving by air into El Alto airport, confirm with the authorities on arrival that ground transport is functioning normally and avoid unnecessary delays leaving the terminal. If arriving by road to El Alto airport, you should seek your travel company’s advice before you leave for the airport.”

Georgia (Security threat level – 3): On 7 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi issued a Demonstration Alert for Tbilisi and Batumi on 8-10 November, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Cinema locations in Tbilisi and Batumi, November 8-10 at various showtimes between 7:00pm and 11:00pm.

“Event: Potential Protest Activity at Movie Screenings

“Various groups are calling for protests against the screening of the movie “And Then We Danced” in Georgia November 8 – 10. Many of these individuals are from the same groups who used violent anti-LGBT rhetoric and staged demonstrations in June in response to planned Pride Week activities. Furthermore, several of their recent statements are anti-American in nature and falsely claim that the U.S. and other Western governments “ordered” that the screenings take place.

“In addition, anti-LGBT supporters may gather tomorrow (November 8) at 4:00pm in Vera Park (200 meters from Amirani cinema) and then stage outside the Amirani and Galleria cinemas ahead of the screenings. Protest activity may occur outside other cinema locations too (including Saburtalo Mall, Tbilisi Mall, and East Point Mall in Tbilisi, and Apolo cinema in Batumi). The Georgian Ministry of Interior is aware of this potential protest activity and has stated that they will ensure public safety and order.

“U.S. government personnel have been advised to avoid any and all large gatherings as the potential for unanticipated violence exists.”

Guinea-Bissau (Security threat level – 4): On 6 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, issued a Security Alert for Guinea-Bissau, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Guinea-Bissau
“Event: Ongoing political tensions have resulted in an increased possibility of a deteriorating security situation in and around key government facilities and other areas throughout the country. Due to concerns about the capacity of the local authorities to respond to future situations, and to ensure the safety and security of U.S. Citizens, we recommend exercising caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens as there is currently no permanent U.S. diplomatic or consular presence in Guinea-Bissau.”

Mauritius (Security threat level – 1): On 6 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice regarding the upcoming elections, which reads in part as follows: “Elections are scheduled to take place on Thursday 7 November 2019, which has been declared a public holiday. Election results are expected on Friday 8 November. Large crowds and heavy traffic are expected on both days. You should remain vigilant and avoid large gatherings, especially political demonstrations and rallies, monitor local media reports and carry a photocopy of your ID with you at all times.”

Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 4): On 7 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice regarding upcoming presidential elections to read in part as follows: “The Sri Lankan presidential election will take place on 16 November 2019. There have been sporadic incidents of violence during the campaign so far and it is possible these will continue up to and beyond polling date. You should take appropriate security precautions, follow local advice, comply with security instructions and avoid large gatherings, protests and rallies.”