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Worldview Weekly Security Overview – April 26, 2019

22 – 25 April 2019

Monday 25 April 2019:

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 20 April 2019, four assailants detonated explosives and opened fire on police officers at the Information Ministry headquarters in central Kabul. Approximately 2,000 people were trapped inside the building for several hours until security forces could evacuate them. At least seven people were killed in the clashes, including three police officers and four civilians; at least eight other people were wounded. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; the Taliban and the Afghan branch of the Islamic State have denied involvement.

Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 3): On 21 April 2019, eight bombings targeted prominent hotels and churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticalo. In Colombo, the explosions targeted St. Anthony’s Shrine, the Shangri-La Hotel, the Kingsbury Hotel, the Cinnamon Grand Hotel and the Tropical Inn. One additional explosion occurred at a residence in the Dematagoda suburb of Colombo as police officers were questioning a suspect, who then detonated a bomb, killing himself and three officers. In Negombo, an attack targeted St. Sebastian’s Church. Authorities also discovered an improvised explosive device on a road near Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB/VCBI), which is located in Negombo but serves Colombo, and placed the airport on lockdown while they destroyed the bomb in a controlled explosion. Operations at the airport continued uninterrupted. In Batticaloa, an attack targeted the Zion Church. Thus far, at least 290 people have been killed and more than 500 injured.

In light of the continued attacks, security officials have implemented a nationwide curfew. Reports as of 22 April indicate that the curfew will last until 0400 local time on 23 April (2230 UTC on 22 April). Authorities have also declared a state of emergency, which allow security forces to detain and interrogate suspects without legal orders.

As of 22 April, authorities have conducted a controlled explosion of a device near Colombo’s St. Anthony’s Shrine. They have also found at least 87 bomb detonators at a bus station and a garbage dump in Colombo. Thus far, authorities have arrested at least 13 people in connection with the attacks. The Sri Lankan government has accused local miliant group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) of perpetrating the attack. However, at least one media source has claimed that the Jamaat al-Tawhid al-Watania is behind the attack. Most reports indicate that these groups could not have conducted the attacks without international support.

Authorities have stepped up security at locations across the country; disruptions and delays at hospitals, airports, train stations and other major travel hubs are likely due to increased security measures. Travelers departing from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (VCBI/CMB) are advised to arrive four hours ahead of their scheduled flight due to heightened security measures at the airport.

Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 21 April 2019, Nigerian officials confirmed that unidentified armed assailants had stormed the Kajuru Castle resort, located approximately 60 km (37 mi) southeast of Kaduna, late on 19 April. During the attack, the assailants abducted four tourists and shot and killed two people, including one British aid worker and one Nigerian national. Authorities have not located the assailants or the hostages, and it remains unclear if any ransom demands have been made. Kidnappings are common in Nigeria, particularly in Kaduna state.

Tuesday 23 April 2019:

Morocco (Security threat level – 3): On 22 April 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Rabat issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Casablanca, Arab League Park (Parc de la Ligue Arabe)
  • “Event: Due to reports of several recent assaults of individuals in Arab League Park in Casablanca, U.S. Mission personnel are restricted from transiting the park during the hours of darkness. U.S. citizen travelers are advised to exercise increased caution in the area around the park.”
  • Wednesday 24 April 2019:

    Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 23 April 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
  • “Events: U.S. Embassy personnel in Kabul are restricted to essential travel only from April 28 to May 2. Afghan national holidays and public events at the end of April and beginning of May are expected to increase the number of visitors to Kabul. An increased police and security presence, large numbers of vehicles on the roads, checkpoints for motorists, and road closures beginning on or before April 28 will create significant delays and inconvenience for travelers.
  • “The large number of people traveling by air and by road to Kabul, and crowds traveling to or assembling for events, may be targeted by terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan.”
  • Friday 26 April 2019:

    Sudan (Security threat level – 5): On 25 April 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Sudan issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Sudanese Armed Forces Headquarters in Khartoum; Khartoum 2; the bridges in the Khartoum metropolitan area; metropolitan Khartoum (Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North) and other cities and locations across Sudan.
  • “Event: Opposition groups have called for increased participation in the on-going demonstration at Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) Headquarters. In addition to increased participation at SAF Headquarters, spontaneous protests could occur throughout Khartoum and security forces may react without warning.
  • “All U.S. Government personnel are required to conduct all movements in armored vehicles and only with prior approval from Embassy security. On April 11, 2019, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees.
  • “The Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy will be open for routine business on Thursday, April 25, 2019 and closed on Sunday and Monday, April 28 and 29, 2019 for Eastern Rites Easter and Sham Al Naseem holidays.
  • “Although the protests have been peaceful since April 11, and the military have allowed the demonstrations to continue without interference, there is always the possibility that this could change. Security forces have enhanced authority to detain and arrest anybody they deem to be undermining public order. Arbitrary detentions, including of foreigners, could occur. The Sudanese government does not recognize dual citizenship and is likely to consider U.S.-Sudanese dual citizens as Sudanese citizens only.”
  • Security threat levels range from 1 (Very Low) to 5 (Very High) and are determined using a comprehensive system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The primary factors used to determine a location’s security threat level are Armed Conflict, Crime, Demonstrations/Strikes, Ethnic/Sectarian Tensions, Graft/Corruption, Kidnapping, Political Instability, Government Restriction and Terrorism.