Worldview Security Update – November 8, 2019
8-Nov-19

AMERICAS

Chile (Security threat level – 2): A large protest is scheduled to take place at the Plaza Italia in the capital Santiago at 1800 local time (2100 UTC) on 8 November 2019. In addition to this scheduled demonstration, sporadic protests are likely to occur in large cities, such as in Santiago and Concepción, throughout the day and continue through the weekend.

Disruptive protests occurred across Chile on 7 November. Isolated clashes broke out between police officers and protesters in Santiago and Temuco during the evening hours. In one incident in Santiago, police officers used tear gas to disperse crowds near the Plaza Italia. In another incident in the capital, security personnel fired water cannons and tear gas at protesters on the Pio Nono Bridge, in the city’s Providencia commune. There were no reports of injuries. Elsewhere in Chile, police officers in Temuco deployed tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered outside a hospital.

Earlier in the day, demonstrations in Santiago disrupted afternoon travel to and from Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCEL/SCL). Demonstrations also occurred at the Plaza Italia, the Plaza Egaña, in front of the Costanera Center and in the Vitacura area. Protesters also attacked the national headquarters of the ruling Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party in Providencia commune in the late afternoon and erected burning barricades on the streets outside the building. While the majority of previous protests in Santiago occurred in the downtown area, protesters have begun to demonstrate in the northern areas of Las Condes, Providencia, and Vitacura, where several upscale hotels and embassies are located. Elsewhere in Chile, protesters erected a barricade at the intersection of Avenidas O’Higgins and Tucapel and demonstrated at the Plaza Independencia in downtown Concepción.

In a related development on 7 November, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advisory for Chile regarding the ongoing protest activity. Additional details are available in the Government Warnings section below.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): On 8 November 2019, demonstrators staged spontaneous protests throughout Hong Kong — including during the evening in Mong Kok, Tseung Kwan O and Causeway Bay — following the announcement of the death of a university student who had been in a coma since 4 November after falling from the third to the second floor of a parking garage during a protest in Mong Kok. Anecdotal reports indicate that in Causeway Bay, protesters threw objects at police officers who then dispersed the crowds. In Mong Kok, demonstrators reportedly erected barricades along Nathan Road and Argyle Street. In Tseung Kwan O, mourners peacefully gathered at the site where the student was injured. Mass Transit Railway (MTR) officials suspended all services at the Sha Tin MTR station in New Territories beginning at 2100 local time (1300 UTC) due to unrest. Authorities also later suspended services to Sai Wan Ho, Causeway Bay, Tsuen Wan, Mong Kok, Whampoa and Ma On Shan MTR stations, as well as all light rail services.

Earlier in the day — beginning at approximately 1400 local time — demonstrators at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), where the victim studied, vandalized multiple shops on campus, including three cafeterias, a Starbucks, a Bank of China branch and the residence of the university’s president, in order to pressure authorities into investigating the circumstances of his fall. In the morning, office workers held protest marches during rush hour in a number of areas, including Mong Kok, Kwun Tong, Tai Wai, Sha Tin, Kwai Fong, Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay, Sheung Wan and Wan Chai. In Wan Chai, demonstrators temporarily blocked traffic along Hennessy Road. Demonstrators dispersed by 0900 local time and no major disruptions occurred.

Organizers have planned additional protests for 10 and 11 November. On 10 November demonstrators plan to gather at 1400 local time in Tuen Mun to protest against a recent incident that adversely affected local residents, which the protesters suspect was the result of a police training center testing tear gas . Organizers previously applied for a Letter of No Objection, but authorities denied the application. As a result, the protest organizers plan to announce the venue for the demonstration on 10 November. On 11 November demonstrators plan to disrupt public transportation by blocking train doors and erecting barricades along roads beginning at 0700 local time. However, previous similar actions were largely ignored, and the expected turnout remains unknown. Furthermore, religious groups plan to hold a “40-hour Prayer Meeting” between 0800 and 2100 local time on 11 and 12 November, and again from 0700 to 2100 local time on 13 November, at Edinburgh Place in Central.

India / Bangladesh (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): As of 0900 UTC on 8 November 2019, Tropical Cyclone Matmo, also known as Cyclone Bulbul, was located approximately 495 km (310 mi) east of Visakhapatnam, India, and was tracking north-northwestward at 15 kph (9 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, Matmo was generating maximum sustained winds of 157 kph, with gusts of up to 195 kph. The storm is forecast to intensify by the afternoon on 8 November and will make landfall along the border of India and Bangladesh by 9 November. Matmo is expected to bring rainfall of between 127 and 203 mm (5 and 8 in) to affected areas, including Kolkata, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh, and could cause flash flooding. Additionally, a storm surge of up to 2 m (6.5 ft) is expected along coastal areas of India’s West Bengal state as the storm approaches. Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department has issued a “yellow alert” for parts of Odisha and West Bengal states, warning of heavy rains and rough sea conditions. Moreover, the Odisha state government has placed nine coastal districts on alert and deployed emergency personnel to the districts as a precautionary measure.

Philippines / Vietnam (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): As of 0900 UTC on 8 November 2019, Tropical Storm Nakri — known as Quiel in the Philippines – had intensified into a typhoon. At that time, Nakri was located approximately 510 km (315 mi) west-southwest of Manila, Philippines, and was tracking west-southwestward at 7 kph (4 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Moreover, Nakri was generating maximum sustained winds of 120 kph, with gusts of up to 150 kph. Heavy rain is predicted to continue in the Babuyan Islands, Apayao and Ilocos Norte, Philippines. The storm is expected to make landfall in southern Vietnam between 10 and 11 November and bring heavy rainfall before rapidly dissipating by 12 November.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iran (Security threat level – 3): On 8 November 2019, a shallow 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck approximately 55 km (35 mi) northeast of Hastrud (Hashtrood), in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, resulted in a number of casualties and damaged structures across northwestern Iran. The quake occurred at approximately 0220 local time (2250 UTC on 7 November) and was measured at an estimated depth of 10 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Tremors were felt as far south as Zanjan and as far north as Yerevan, Armenia. The most intense tremors were felt at the epicenter, while moderate shaking was felt in Tabriz, the East Azerbaijan provincial capital. Structural damage occurred in several villages and towns, including in Hastrud and the city of Mianeh, located approximately 60 km east of Hastrud; no damage was reported in Tabriz. At least six people were killed in Varnakesh village (Mianeh county) and approximately 345 others suffered quake-related injuries. According to a local official, many people suffered injuries while attempting to flee their residences in a panic. More than 60 aftershocks have been recorded since the initial earthquake struck, according to state news agency IRNA.

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On the afternoon of 8 November 2019, riot police and anti-government protesters in Baghdad clashed along Al-Rasheed Street. Earlier in the day, protesters gathered along a makeshift barricade on the Jumariyah Bridge adjacent to the Green Zone, as well as in Tahrir Square. Police officers used tear gas to prevent demonstrators from reaching Martyrs Bridge in Baghdad. While there were no reports of casualties on 8 November, at least six people were killed in protests on 7 November. There were reports of similar protests in Basra, Nasiriya, Diwaniyah, Tikrit and Najaf. There were scattered reports of internet blackouts across Iraq associated with the protests.

In Najaf, protesters blocked the road leading from Al Najaf International Airport (ORNI/NJF) to the nearby town of Kufa. In Nasiriyah, security forces opened fire on demonstrators gathered in the Rifai district, but there were no reports of casualties. In Diwaniyah, security forces arrested an unspecified number of demonstrators during protests in the city.

Meanwhile, in Basra, several hundred demonstrators gathered in downtown Basra despite a heightened security presence; security forces used live gunfire to disperse the protests. On the previous day, police officers opened fire on protesters in Basra despite the Iraqi government’s recent promise to stop using live ammunition against civilians. Protesters staged a sit-in in front of the governorate building before security forces deployed to disperse crowds. At least 12 people were killed and 150 others were injured.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 8 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice regarding overland travel in Bolivia, which reads in part as follows: “You should regularly check the viability of any existing travel plans around the country, seeking advice from your transport and accommodation providers and local authorities as needed. All travel within and between major cities is being intermittently blocked by protesters and many major roads have been closed. Transport options will be extremely limited, road journeys and land border crossings may take a lot longer than planned, and there may be disruption to supply of goods in parts of the country. Land borders are subject to closure at short notice.”

Chile (Security threat level – 2): On 7 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Chile, which reads in part as follows:
"Following civil unrest across Chile you should expect to see a police presence in major cities. Large demonstrations are expected in Santiago and other cities on a daily basis. Protests are expected to take place in Las Condes, Providencia and Vitacura where the British Embassy and many international hotels are located. Under Chilean law, foreign nationals visiting or living in Chile could be deported for involvement in protests and demonstrations. You should follow the instructions and advice of the local authorities, remain vigilant, monitor local media for updates and avoid protests and demonstrations.

"All of Santiago’s public transport – including the metro and buses – is running a limited service at this time. Public transport in other cities may be affected. Some banks, shopping malls, pharmacies and supermarkets are operating reduced hours.

"Some domestic and international flights might be delayed or cancelled. You should check the status of your flight with your airline before travelling to the airport. Some roads around Santiago have been affected by barricades including some routes to the airport. If you’re travelling to the airport, you should check with your transport company before travelling and allow extra time for your journey.

"Some land border crossing points between Chile and the neighbouring countries of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru are currently being closed overnight. If you plan to cross any land border point, check with authorities for exact closure times prior to travel."

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 7 November 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Ecuador with updates to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” areas, which reads in part as follows:
“Exercise increased caution in Ecuador due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

“Do Not Travel To:

  • Carchi, Sucumbíos, and the northern part of Esmeraldas provinces, including Esmeraldas city, due to crime.

“Country Summary: Serious, sometimes violent, demonstrations and road blockades occurred throughout Ecuador in October 2019, disrupting inter-city, inter-provincial, and international travel. Demonstrations and blockades could occur again in any location with little to no warning.

“Crime, including violent crime, is a concern throughout Ecuador. Limited police and judicial resources contribute to Ecuador’s overall high crime rate. Pickpocketing, purse snatching, robbery, and theft of travel documents are the crimes most commonly committed against U.S. citizens. Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page .”

The Travel Advisory can be viewed in full here .

India (Security threat level – 3): On 8 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: India

“Press reports indicate the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs is advising the public to remain alert to the announcement of an Indian Supreme Court decision in the coming days concerning rights to disputed land in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. This announcement may be met with demonstrations. U.S. citizens should monitor media about possible resulting disruptions to traffic or travel. U.S. citizens can monitor the media to take appropriate precautions, such as avoiding large crowds.”

Jamaica (Security threat level – 3): On 7 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Kingston issued a Security Alert regarding the extensions to States of Emergency, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Parishes throughout Jamaica

"Event: The U.S. Embassy in Kingston advises U.S. citizens that the Government of Jamaica has extended States of Public Emergency (SOE) covering several parishes, based on criminal activity and threats to public safety and the rule of law. The SOE, declared under the 1966 Emergency Powers Act, gives expanded authorities to Jamaican security forces to arbitrarily detain and deport suspicious persons, enter premises, and seize property without warrant. Expect to encounter increased police and military presence, checkpoints, and searches of persons and vehicles within the parishes listed below: 

"State of Emergency Location – Current Expiration

  • St. Andrew South Police Division – January 4, 2020
  • St. James Parish – January 27, 2020
  • Hanover Parish – January 27, 2020
  • Westmoreland Parish – January 27, 2020
  • St. Catherine Parish – January 18, 2020
  • Clarendon Parish – January 18, 2020

"Zones of Special Operation Location – Current Expiration

  • Denham Town, Kingston – January 18, 2020
  • Mount Salem, St. James – January 7, 2020"

Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 8 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Nigeria
“Event: Precautions for Foreigners Working in Conflict-Affected Areas of Nigeria
“Foreigners working the conflict-affected areas of Nigeria should take all necessary precaution to prevent attacks, kidnappings, or other associated actions by terrorist organizations seeking to retaliate for the death of Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham overall Amir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“Conflict-affected areas of Nigeria include, but are not limited to, Borno and Yobe States, and Northern Adamawa State.
“Actions to take:

  • Review your personal security plans.
  • Stay alert in public places, including schools, hospitals, government facilities, places of worship, tourist locations, and transportation hubs.
  • Review travel routes and times to reduce time and place predictability."

Poland (Security threat level – 2): On 8 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Warsaw, Krakow, and other large cities in Poland

“Event: Several large public events will take place on November 11, 2019, in conjunction with Polish Independence Day. In the past, there have been reported incidents of violence. Expect heavy traffic congestion as well as road closures and parking difficulties. Planned events specifically in Warsaw include the following:

  • A march organized by the nationalist Independence March Association “Stowarzyszenie Marsz Niepodleglosci” will take place between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., starting at the Dmowski Roundabout and ending at the National Stadium.  Approximately 40,000 participants are expected.
  • The Anti-fascist Coalition will march from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., starting at Pl.Unii Lubelskiej through ul. Marszalkowska, Pl. Konstytucji, Piekna, Al. Ujazdowskie, and ending at Pl. 3 Krzyzy. Approximately 5,000 participants are expected.
  • An Independence Run will take place at 11:11 a.m., starting and ending at Al. Jana Pawla II.  Approximately 20,000 participants are expected.”