Worldview Security Update – October 15, 2019
15-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 14 October 2019, suspected members of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG) ambushed a police convoy in the township of Aguililla in Michoacán state. At least 30 gunmen armed with military-style assault and sniper rifles opened fire on five police trucks en route to the town of El Aguaje with 42 police officers aboard to serve an arrest warrant. The gunmen killed 13 police officers and wounded nine others. The event has been noted as the worst attack on law enforcement in Mexico in recent years. Authorities increased security personnel presence and established checkpoints in the state in the wake of the attack as a search for the perpetrators is ongoing. Michoacán has witnessed a recent uptick in gang-related violence.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): Flight operations at Paris Orly Airport (LFPO/ORY) are disrupted on 15 October 2019 due to an unspecified technical issue affecting IT systems at the facility. The technical difficulty began at approximately 1220 local time (1020 UTC) and led to flight cancellations and delays. Although some technical systems were restored by 1330 local time, airport officials have warned of continued delays. Travelers with flights scheduled to operate through the airport should check with their airline regarding the status of their flights.

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 15 October 2019, pro-Kurdish protesters clashed with police officers during a demonstration in Herne. Approximately 350 protesters marched through the city and began vandalizing a kiosk after a customer provoked members of the crowd. Two patrons inside the booth were injured during the violence. In another incident, protesters destroyed the windows and furniture at a Turkish-owned café, injuring a police officer and a bystander. The protest organizer was also injured during the violence after attempting to resolve ongoing disputes. Several pro-Kurdish demonstrations have recently occurred in Germany — in opposition to Turkey’s ongoing military intervention in northeastern Syria — and are expected to continue.

Spain (Security threat level – 3): Protesters are expected to gather in Barcelona on 15 October 2019 for a second consecutive day to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision to sentence nine Catalan political leaders to prison over their involvement in the 2017 Catalonian independence referendum. On the previous day, thousands of protesters gathered in the vicinity of Barcelona-El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport (LEBL/BCN), effectively blocking all access routes to the facility and causing significant traffic disruptions. Riot police officers fired rubber bullets and used batons to disperse the protesters, who remained near the airport until the late evening hours. More than 50 people were injured during clashes outside and near the airport, and more than 110 scheduled flights were canceled due to the protest action.

During the evening of 14 October, thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Barcelona on the Via Laietana and marched toward the headquarters of the national police, causing additional traffic disruptions. Riot police established a security perimeter and charged protesters as clashes continued into the nighttime hours. Separately, associated demonstrations also occurred in front of government buildings in the cities of Lleida, Girona and Tarragona. Rail and road transportation disruptions occurred in all protest areas. Renfe — Spain’s national rail carrier – shut down multiple lines and suspended various services; rail services have been largely restored on 15 October.

While Democratic Tsunami — the protest organizers — stated that additional demonstrations would take place on 15 October, details regarding anticipated protest locations have not been announced and there have been no reports of significant protester turnout in Barcelona. Although several domestic and international flights scheduled at LEBL on 15 October were canceled as a precaution in anticipation of further disruptive protests, the facility is open and operational.

Switzerland (Security threat level – 2): On 15 October 2019, Swiss Air announced the grounding of its Airbus 220 fleet with immediate effect due to engine problems. According to the airline, the grounding will cause a large number of flight cancellations, which will lead to a “significant reduction in air operations.” The carrier will reintroduce the fleet upon the conclusion of an inspection of the fleet’s engines. A timeline for the reintroduction of the fleet and end of the associated disruptions is unavailable. Swiss Air owns 29 Airbus 220 aircraft, which are used primarily for European routes.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 15 October 2019, police officers in London forcibly dispersed protesters affiliated with the Extinction Rebellion movement outside the MI5 headquarters in Millbank and the Department for Transport building in Westminster. In addition, police officers arrested at least three participants of the unauthorized protests, including one of the co-founders of the group.

Meanwhile, on the previous day, officials in London announced a ban on all climate change protests organized by Extinction Rebellion in the city. Authorities stated that police officers would arrest all protesters demonstrating after 2200 local time (2100 UTC) as a result of the ban, which officials deemed necessary due to the serious disruptions caused by climate change protests organized by the group. Police officers began removing protesters from Trafalgar Square and Vauxhill Pleasure Gardens after the announcement despite prior agreements to allow demonstrations at the sites. Previous protests — which began on 7 October — were scheduled to last two weeks; however, ongoing traffic disruptions and damage caused by protesters have led to more than 1,400 arrests. Protesters have announced plans to disrupt London Underground services on 17 October if the government does not meet with group leaders by that date.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Cabo Verde (Security threat level – 2): On 14 October 2019, Tropical Depression 15 formed off the western coast of Africa. As of 0900 UTC on 15 October, the depression was located approximately 335 km (210 mi) east of the Cabo Verde Islands and was moving northwest at 19 kph (12 mph). At that time, the storm was generating maximum sustained winds of 55 kph with higher gusts. The depression is forecast to strengthen into a tropical storm and pass over or near eastern Cabo Verde later on 15 October. Tropical storm conditions are likely on the eastern coast of the Cabo Verde Islands. The storm is expected to produce 25-75 mm (1-3 in) of rainfall, with isolated maximums of up to 127 mm over Cabo Verde, which could result in flash floods and mudslides. In addition, wind speeds of over 62 kph are possible over the eastern islands of the archipelago. The storm is forecast to dissipate by 17 October and is not expected to affect land areas other than Cabo Verde.

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 15 October 2019, protesters gathered throughout the capital Conakry, as well as in the central city of Labé, for a second consecutive day to protest against proposed constitutional changes that would allow President Alpha Condé to seek a third term. Several hundred youths have gathered in Conakry’s upper suburbs — including Cosa, Koloma and Bambéto — where they blocked roads, burned tires and debris, and threw stones at police officers and gendarmes. Security personnel have deployed tear gas and are working to disperse the protesters, several of whom have been arrested.

The opposition National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) coalition organized nationwide demonstrations on 14 October to protest against Condé’s attempt to seek a third term. At least five protesters were shot dead during violent clashes throughout the day. The FNDC has indicated its members will continue protests until the Guinean government rules out a possible third term for Condé in the October 2020 presidential election.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 15 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Haiti, which reads in part as follows:

"There have been sporadic, unpredictable and sometimes violent demonstrations, protests and roadblocks in Port au Prince and throughout Haiti since July 2018, with a notable increase in civil unrest in the weeks since 2 September 2019. The movement of goods and people into and within the country is often disrupted due to blocked roads and security incidents. As a consequence, there are sometimes fuel and food shortages.

"If you’re in Haiti or due to undertake essential travel, you should remain vigilant at all times, keep movements to a minimum and regularly review your departure options. Avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings, monitor local media, follow the advice of local authorities and keep up to date with this travel advice. The following local FM radio stations broadcast in French and Kreyol: Radio Metropole 100.1; RFM 104.9; Radio Kiskeya 88.5; Radio IBO 98.5; Radio ONE 90.5; Radio Nationale d’Haiti 105.3; and Radio Pacific 101.5."

Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 15 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Japan, which reads in part as follows: “Following Typhoon Hagibis some transportation remains disrupted due to flooding and landslides. The majority of railway operators have restarted, though some services are still affected. Airlines have resumed most flight operations to and from Haneda and Narita airports from 14th October. Some tourist destinations and facilities across the country are temporarily closed.”

Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 15 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Thailand, which reads in part as follows: “On 24 October there will be a Royal Barge Procession along a 4.2km section of the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok. There will also be full dress rehearsals on 17 and 21 October. Travel restrictions are likely to be in place on these days, which could include road, bridge, waterway and pier closures, as well as other restrictions related to viewing the procession. You should follow the advice of local security authorities regarding any restrictions.”