Worldview Security Update – October 3, 2019
3-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Argentina (Security threat level – 3): Taxi drivers affiliated with the Taxi Pawn Union (SPT) demonstrated in Buenos Aires from 0900-1100 local time (1200-1400 UTC) on 3 October 2019 to protest against ride-sharing services Uber and Cabify. Demonstrators gathered on Avenida General Paz at the intersections of Libertador, Del Tejar, Cabildo, Rivadavia, and Juan Bautista Alberdi — as well as at the intersection of Avenida 9 de Julio and San Juan — causing traffic disruptions. In addition, traffic disruptions also occurred on the Pueyrredón, Pompeii, Almirante Brown, and Vélez Sarsfield bridges. There were no reports of violence or arrests. Additional demonstrations are scheduled for 8 and 10 October.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Unrest is expected to continue throughout Hong Kong between 4 and 7 October 2019. Currently, there are no verifiable plans for demonstrations between 4 and 6 October, but an anti-government demonstration is planned outside exit B1 of the Prince Edward MTR station in Mong Kok on 7 October from 1900 to 2000 local time (1100- 2100 UTC). Despite the lack of planned protests, spontaneous demonstrations are likely throughout the city; common areas for demonstrations include Admiraly, Wan Chai, Central, Causeway Bay, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan, Tsim Sha Tsui, Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok. Furthermore, on 4 October the government allegedly plans to use emergency powers to enact legislation that will ban the use of masks at public gatherings. While the impending ban on wearing face masks is intended to curb increasing violence during protest actions, any such prohibition will likely have the opposite effect and exacerbate the situation.

Previously, on the evening of 2 October police officers fired tear gas at demonstrators in Hong Kong’s Tsuen Wan area after demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at the police station. The demonstrators initially gathered to protest against the shooting of a teenage protester in the area the day prior. Additional protests occurred on the same day in Mong Kok, Wong Tai Sin, Causeway Bay and Sha Tin.

India (Security threat level – 3): According to reports on 3 October 2019, authorities have increased security at strategic installations in the capital New Delhi — including at government offices and Indira Gandhi International Airport (VIDP/DEL) — and are searching for four suspected members of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) after receiving a letter claiming to be from a member of JeM. In the letter, the author alleged that the group was purportedly planning to launch an attack in the city during the ongoing Navaratri festival period in response to the government’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state. Police officers conducted searches overnight on 2-3 October in several areas of the city — including Zafrabad, Seelampur, Welcome Colony, Jamia Nagar, Okhla, Chandni Chowk, Chitli Kabar and Chandni Mahal — and detained two people.

Analyst Comment: Terror warnings are common during holiday periods in India, but almost never transpire into any terrorist act. However, travelers should expect delays due to additional security procedures, particularly at the airport.

South Korea (Security threat level – 2): On 3 October 2019, Typhoon Mitag passed over Gangneung, South Korea, bringing heavy rains and flooding to the area. According to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, more than 100 houses and other private structures were flooded; additionally, more than 1,500 people evacuated from the southeastern regions and more than 44,000 residences lost power. At least six people were killed and four others suffered storm-related injuries.

As of 0900 UTC on 3 October, the storm was located approximately 850 km (530 mi) south-southwest of Misawa, Japan, and was moving east-northeast at 33 kph (20 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). At that time, Mitag was posting maximum sustained winds of 74 kph with gusts of up to 92 kph. The storm is forecast to dissipate before making landfall again in Japan’s Yamagata prefecture by 4 October.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1300 local time (1100 UTC) on 3 October 2019, a knife attack occurred at the Paris police headquarters, located near the Notre-Dame Cathedral on Île-de-la-Cité, an island on the Seine River. Officials stated the attacker killed at least four police officers and injured several others before police officers killed the assailant. Security personnel have cordoned off Île-de-la-Cité and closed Cité metro station as a precaution. Authorities have not yet stated a motive for the attack, but reports indicate that the assailant was an employee at the police headquarters.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): As of 3 October 2019, anti-government protests are ongoing in the capital Baghdad. In Tahrir Square, police officers fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse protesters. Earlier on 3 October, unidentified militants fired at least two rockets into Baghdad’s International Zone (IZ), which houses foreign embassies and government buildings in central Baghdad. At least one rocket reportedly landed near the Turkish embassy, while another landed near Harthiya Bridge; both are located in the IZ. There were no reports of casualties in the attacks, for which no group has claimed responsibility.

The attacks occurred shortly after Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced a citywide curfew late on 2 October. The terms of the curfew ban vehicles and pedestrians from moving within the city starting at 0500 local time (0200 UTC) on 3 October. Travelers to and from Baghdad International Airport (ORBI/BGW), ambulances, religious pilgrims and government employees in hospitals and the water and electricity departments are exempt from the curfew. Officials also imposed curfews in several other Iraqi cities, including Dhi Qar, Nasiriyah, Amara, Hillah and Najaf. Meanwhile, in a related development, Iranian authorities announced that the Khosravi and Chazabeh crossings between Iran and Iraq are closed due to the unrest in Iraq. Additionally, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad have suspended routine consular services due to the deteriorating security situation.

Officials declared the curfew in response to particularly violent protests in the cities of Baghdad, Dhi Qar, Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah and Najaf on 2 October. In Baghdad, protesters blocked the road to and from Baghdad International Airport by forming a human chain across the road and erecting a makeshift barricade. Iraqi security forces did not appear to intervene to disperse the crowd, and the protests did not disrupt flight operations at the facility. Security forces in Baghdad also blockaded access to the IZ in an effort to prevent protesters from entering the area. At least 20 people have been killed thus far and more than 400 others have been injured in the nationwide protests that began on 1 October. Demonstrators are protesting against unemployment, corruption and lack of basic services.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 2 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ethiopia, which reads in part as follows: “We are aware of violent clashes around Chilga Woreda, Central Gondar Zone, in late September and reports of fatalities, including of civilians. While attacks are mostly related to inter-ethnic disputes and foreigners have not been targeted, attacks can occur at any time with significant risk of being caught up in violence. Travelers should monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator.”