Worldview Security Update – October 11, 2019
11-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): As of early on 11 October 2019, there have been no reports of anti-government protest actions in Ecuador. In the city of Guayaquil, security forces have restricted traffic on the National Unity Bridge to two lanes connecting Guayaquil to the town of Durán. Metro services have also resumed normal operations in the city. Meanwhile, in Quito, protesting indigenous groups have announced that further demonstrations will occur as additional participants from the Amazon provinces are expected to arrive in the city later on 11 October.

On the previous day, hundreds of indigenous protesters temporarily held hostage at least 10 police officers during a rally at the House of Culture in Quito. Protesters forced the officers to parade on a stage and made them remove their helmets, bullet-proof vests and boots. Protesters also forced some of the officers to carry the coffin of an indigenous activist allegedly killed during the violence on 9 October. The officers were later released along with approximately 30 journalists the protesters had prevented from leaving the building while reporting on the event; a group of protesters attacked a local reporter as he tried to leave the building. Indigenous groups also gathered outside Quito’s Pontifical Catholic University and marched to El Arbolito Park; however, no clashes occurred between participants and police officers.

Analyst Comment: Large-scale protests to demand the return of annulled fuel subsidies have been ongoing across Ecuador since 3 October. The intensity of demonstrations and instances of violence, however, have decreased since indigenous groups and labor unions held mass gatherings across the country on 9 October. Disruptions to ground travel and other services in major cities, such as Quito and Guayaquil, have been less severe since 10 October and the situation appears to be relatively calm. That being said, future demonstrations — which could re-intensify — are expected to focus on the city of Quito.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 11 October 2019, a large-scale wildfire has consumed more than 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) of land in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley and has forced approximately 100,000 residents to evacuate their homes. The blaze broke out in the far northern Sylmar area of Los Angeles the previous night and rapidly spread through the area. The wildfire has destroyed a number of structures and shut down major highways, including the 210 Freeway in both directions and a truck route on the 5 Freeway. However, there have been no reports of injuries or fatalities. As of last report, the blaze was zero percent contained and anticipated windy conditions throughout the day could exacerbate the situation.

ASIA

Japan (Security threat level – 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 1800 local time (0900 UTC) on 11 October 2019, Super Typhoon Hagibis was located approximately 750 km (465 mi) south-southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, and was moving north-northwest at 28 kph (17 mph). At that time, Hagibis was generating maximum sustained winds of 213 kph with gusts of up to 259 kph. On its current track, Hagibis is forecast to make landfall on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture — located on the main island of Honshu — and pass over the Tokyo area before re-entering the Pacific Ocean on 12 October. Rainfall of up to 152 mm (6 in) is expected in some areas; in addition, coastal areas could experience storm surges of up to 13 m (42 ft). In anticipation of severe disruptions associated with the storm, All Nippon Airways has canceled all domestic flights scheduled to operate through Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (RJAA/NRT) and Haneda Airport (RJTT/HND) on 12 October. Meanwhile, Japan Airlines has canceled more than 90% of domestic flights operating through the two airports on the same day. Flights — both domestic and international — operating through those airports will likely experience significant delays and cancellations over the upcoming weekend of 12-13 October. Ground travel — including rail services, particularly in the Tokyo area — is expected to be significantly disrupted as well. The Central Japan Railway Co. has canceled all Shinkansen high-speed train services from Tokyo to Osaka through the weekend.

EUROPE

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 11 October 2019, a stabbing attack occurred at the Arndale shopping center in the city of Manchester. At least three people were injured in the attack and sought medical attention; one of the victims suffered serious injuries. Police officers immediately detained the sole suspect and later deemed the case an act of terrorism.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 11 October 2019, Iranian officials stated that two missiles struck an Iranian oil tanker which was traveling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The tanker sustained damage in two of its storerooms, resulting in temporary oil leakage; however, there were no reports of injuries. Further information regarding the origin of the missiles is unknown and Saudi Arabia has yet to comment on the attack.

Analyst Comment: While the details of the attack remain unclear, it appears to be connected to recent increased tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, following Iranian-linked attacks on Saudi oil facilities on 14 September. Travelers operating to Saudi Arabia, and maritime operators in the surrounding waterways should monitor the situation closely in view of increased tensions in the region.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Kenya (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 0900 local time (0600 UTC) on 11 October 2019, a Fokker 50 aircraft with 55 individuals on board skidded off the runway during takeoff at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport (HKNW/WIL). At least seven people were injured, while all others on board disembarked the aircraft without injuries. The Mombasa-bound aircraft — operated by Silverstone Air — reportedly experienced unspecified technical issues before the crash. The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has launched an investigation into the accident.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

China (Security threat level – 3): On 11 October 2019, the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau issued a Demonstration Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location:

  • Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong International Airport
  • Hong Kong Transit Systems
  • Hong Kong Shopping Malls
  • Tai Po
  • Sha Tin
  • Causeway Bay
  • Victoria Park
  • Central
  • Edinburgh Square

“Event: On Friday, October 11, media report that protesters plan to hold rallies at shopping malls across Hong Kong at 9:00 p.m., as well as a protest in Tai Po (New Territories). On Saturday, October 12, media report that protesters plan to gather in shopping malls at 1:00 p.m. and stage a protest in Sha Tin (New Territories). On Sunday, October 13, there are media reports that protesters have planned “Thank You World” rallies at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and Edinburgh Square in Central at 7:00 p.m. This list is not necessarily exhaustive; protests at other times and locations may also occur. Any protests that take place without a permit are considered illegal.

“Protests are likely to disrupt transportation across Hong Kong. MTR stations can be closed and other transportation options can be cancelled on short notice. Over the past week, some MTR stations have been closed for extended periods of time and the MTR network has closed earlier than usual.

“Since June 2019, large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong, including MTR stations, shopping malls, and at Hong Kong International airport. While protests are generally peaceful, they sometimes become violent and disrupt transportation across Hong Kong. Police have used a variety of crowd control measures, including the deployment of tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. On October 4, the government invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to ban face masks at public gatherings.

“The protests and confrontations have spilled over into neighborhoods other than those where the police have permitted marches or rallies. These demonstrations, which can take place with little or no notice, are likely to continue.”

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 11 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“The U.S. Embassy is monitoring social media calls for a rally/protest at Meskel Square on Sunday October 13, 2019. Additional details and the timing of this event are not currently available.

“These types of events have the potential to attract many supporters from both Addis Ababa and the surrounding areas, and may cause vehicular and pedestrian congestion near Meskel Square.

“Large crowds at rallies/protests and these types of events present prime opportunities for criminals. Additionally, demonstrations or rallies that begin peacefully have the potential to turn violent.”

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 10 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Port-au-Prince and throughout Haiti.

“Events: The opposition has announced in local media plans for protest demonstrations during the period October 11 through 17, including in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy on Monday, October 14 and Tuesday, October 15. During this period, movements of U.S. Embassy personnel will be restricted to home to work, between the two residential U.S. Embassy compounds and the Chancery.”

Hungary (Security threat level – 2): On 11 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Budapest issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “A political demonstration is expected in front of the U.S. Embassy on October 12 from 16:15 to 17:00. The demonstration is properly registered with the Hungarian National Police and they will provide security. Exercise caution if in the area.”

India (Security threat level – 3): On 11 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows:

"Location: Chennai and Mahabalipuram

"Event: On Friday, October 11, Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi will arrive for an informal summit in Mahabalipuram. Chennai International Airport expects delays around the scheduled arrival (12:00 to 15:00 hours on October 11) and departure (12:00 to 15:00 hours on October 12) of the Prime Minister and President. Expect delays and/or closures on routes to and from Chennai International Airport, the ITC Grand Chola Hotel and Mahabalipuram. U.S. Consulate personnel have been advised to avoid these areas."

Switzerland (Security threat level – 2): On 11 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bern issued a Demonstration Alert for protests throughout Switzerland, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Bern, Zurich, Geneva, and possibly other cities in Switzerland

“Event: Kurdish groups and anarchist groups have announced separate plans to demonstrate in Bern, Zurich, and Geneva over the next few days. Planned and unplanned demonstrations are expected to take place in a variety of locations. Please exercise caution in and around the U.S. Embassy, Consular Agencies, and other locations where demonstrators are gathered.”