Worldview Weekly Security Update – 30 September – 3 October 2019
3-Oct-19

Monday 30 September 2019:

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): Large-scale, nationwide anti-government protests are scheduled to take place in Haiti on 30 September 2019. Opposition leaders have called for supporters to block streets and bring the country to a virtual standstill. Anti-government protests escalated in scale and intensity on 27 September, when protesters set fire to businesses and police stations throughout the country. In the wealthy enclave of Petion-Ville, located in the capital Port-au-Prince, demonstrators set fire to an electronics store, banks and car dealerships. Protesters in the informal settlement of Cité Soleil destroyed the police headquarters amid clashes with police officers. A number of injuries and fatalities occurred during the clashes. In the northern city of Gonaïves, the capital of the Artibonite department, protesters set fire to several government office buildings. In the city of Saint-Marc, located between Gonaïves and Port-au-Prince, protesters armed with machetes clashed with police officers. In the southern city of Les Cayes, protesters vandalized buildings housing several non-governmental organizations and fuel stations; protesters also attacked a police station in the city and disarmed the stationed officers. Large-scale protests continued in the country over the weekend of 28-29 September.

In a related development, on 29 September leaders of the Catholic Church in Haiti called on President Jovenel Moïse to resolve the unrest. Moïse had previously asked for the assistance of the organization of the Religions for Peace Haiti (RPPH) to moderate talks with the opposition on 26 September. Meanwhile, on the morning of 30 September acting Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin announced a reshuffle, appointing four new Cabinet ministers to existing positions. The action is highly unlikely to quell the current unrest.

In recent weeks, violent, disruptive demonstrations have taken place in Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtien, and in other cities and towns throughout Haiti. Previous protester tactics have included setting up roadblocks throughout Port-au-Prince and other areas and setting fire to businesses and police stations. Protesters have engaged in prolonged, disruptive protests for several weeks due to increased fuel prices and corruption allegations against the government. The protesters have demanded the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who has refused to step down from office.

China (Security threat level – 3): Over the weekend of 28-29 September 2019, anti-government protesters clashed with police officers across Hong Kong. On 29 September clashes began shortly before 1430 local time (0630 UTC) — which was the start time for a planned march from SOGO Mall in Causeway Bay to the Central Government Complex in Admiralty — when authorities arrested a well-known activist outside the mall. Protesters responded by throwing objects at police officers, who deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd. Meanwhile, riot police deployed tear gas, water cannons, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets, and organized charges to disperse demonstrators who were marching from Causeway Bay to Admiralty district and other areas in Wan Chai district. Protesters threw bricks, stones and Molotov cocktails at riot police and set numerous fires throughout the area; several buildings and MTR stations — including the Causeway Bay and Wan Chai stations — were damaged or vandalized during the unrest. In another incident, at approximately 1745 local time, an undercover police officer fired one live round into the air to disperse a crowd of demonstrators who allegedly surrounded and assaulted a group of four plainclothes officers near Southorn Playground in Wan Chai. Separately, protesters engaged in clashes and standoffs with police officers at the Mong Kok police station in Kowloon for several hours; police officers fired tear gas and used batons to disperse the demonstrators. Police officers arrested more than 100 protesters over the course of the day. Additionally, at least three journalists were injured in the violence; one of those injured was struck with a tear gas canister. Authorities claimed that at least eight police officers were also injured, but there were no reports of injuries to protesters.

Previously, on the evening of 28 September, riot police clashed with protesters near the Central Government Headquarters Complex, which includes the Legislative Council building (LegCo). Riot police officers on Harcourt Road deployed water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to disperse demonstrators, who threw bricks, stones and at least two Molotov cocktails over water-filled barricades toward buildings in the complex. Police officers stationed on rooftops of the government complex reportedly fired rubber bullets at demonstrators. Meanwhile, the planned “stress test” at Hong International Airport (VHHH/HKG) did not cause any significant disruptions to airport operations.

As reported in previous editions of Hot Spots, a number of demonstrations are planned in Hong Kong on 1 October, the 70th National Day of the People’s Republic of China. A protest march is scheduled to begin along East Point Road in Causeway Bay at 1300 local time and end at Chater Garden in Central. Additional protests are scheduled to begin at the same in Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin, Wan Chai and Mong Kok. A demonstration outside the U.K. Consulate in Admiralty is expected to begin by 1200 local time. Travelers and expatriates in Hong Kong should anticipate disruptions due to these planned gatherings as well as probable impromptu protests.

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): On the evening of 30 September 2019, clashes broke out between police officers and demonstrators at protests against proposed criminal code changes in Jakarta, the national capital, and Samarinda, the capital of East Kalimantan province. In Jakarta, police officers clashed with protesters who had gathered near the People’s Consultative Assembly compound in Senayan, central Jakarta. Police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators, who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the officers; however, there were no reports of significant injuries. Authorities also shut down nearby Palmerah railway station due to the clashes.

France (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1630 local time (1430 UTC) on 28 September 2019, thousands of people demonstrated across several cities in France, including Bordeaux, Marseille, Paris and Toulouse. The protests comprise the 46th consecutive weekend of “yellow vest” demonstrations. In Toulouse, police officers near Capitol Square deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse approximately 1,000 protesters who were marching from Place Wilson toward rue d’Alsace-Lorraine. Transportation officials diverted at least 13 public bus lines, and the airport and city center shuttles suspended operations. Police officers arrested at least one person in Toulouse, but there were no reports of injuries due to the clashes. Additional violence occurred in the city of Montpellier, where approximately 300 protesters clashed with police officers. At least four officers were injured and officials arrested at least nine demonstrators; similar protests in other French cities concluded peacefully.

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 27 September 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows: “ A strike has been declared in Carchi province (on the northern border with Colombia), causing blockage of roads including the Panamerican Highway. Public interstate transport is suspended along the province until further notice. Travellers coming from Colombia to Ecuador, and those in country intending to reach the immigration checkpoint in ‘Rumichaca,’ Tulcan (in Carchi) are likely to face difficulties in reaching their destination. If possible, you should seek an alternative route and means of transport. Follow local media and avoid any gatherings as they can turn violent. If you are in need of urgent assistance call +593 2 3972 200 and select option 2 for consular assistance."

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 27 September 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows: “ A strike has been declared in Carchi province (on the northern border with Colombia), causing blockage of roads including the Panamerican Highway. Public interstate transport is suspended along the province until further notice. Travellers coming from Colombia to Ecuador, and those in country intending to reach the immigration checkpoint in ‘Rumichaca,’ Tulcan (in Carchi) are likely to face difficulties in reaching their destination. If possible, you should seek an alternative route and means of transport. Follow local media and avoid any gatherings as they can turn violent. If you are in need of urgent assistance call +593 2 3972 200 and select option 2 for consular assistance."

Tanzania (Security threat level – 3): On 27 September 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Tanzania, which remains unchanged at a “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.” The updated Travel Advisory reads in part as follows:

“Exercise increased caution in Tanzania due to crime, terrorism, health issues, and targeting of LGBTI persons…

“On September 10, 2019, CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) were made aware of unofficial reports regarding the unexplained death of a person two days earlier from probable Ebola in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania. This individual reportedly traveled around the country while ill, including to the cities of Songea, Njombe, and Mbeya.”

Tuesday 01 October 2019:

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 30 September 2019, violent demonstrations continued throughout Haiti for the sixth consecutive day. In the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince, police officers fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters after they attempted to set a police station on fire near the Carrefour de l’Aéroport roundabout on the 48 Route de Delmas. At least four people, including a journalist, suffered gunshot wounds during the clashes. Demonstrators also lit two police vehicles on fire. Additionally, security personnel deployed tear gas toward protesters on Ave. John Brown — also known as Lalue — where demonstrators had erected roadblocks and burned tires. Schools, government offices and businesses in Port-au-Prince closed due to the unrest, and are likely to remain closed on 1 October.

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Les Cayes, protesters set fire to a police station and looted a local office of the national electric company on 30 September. Reports on social media claim that at least two protesters were killed in the northern city of Limbe, located east of Cap-Hatien, during clashes with police officers. Opposition leaders have encouraged their supporters to continue to stage protests, burn tires and paralyze the country until President Jovenel Moïse resigns.

In a related development, the Dominican Republic has deployed at least 1,000 additional military personnel to its shared border with Haiti, citing increased civil unrest, which brings the total number of troops at the border to 10,000.

China (Security threat level – 3) : As of late on 1 October 2019, violent protests are ongoing across Hong Kong following clashes between police officers and anti-government protesters throughout the day. Some of the most serious clashes have occurred in Causeway Bay, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Wong Tai Sin districts. During the night hours, police officers fired water cannons and tear gas at protesters in Causeway Bay and unidentified individuals set a fire at exit E of the MTR station. Meanwhile in Tsuen Wan, protesters vandalized ATMs of the Bank of China and also defaced the outside of several commercial establishments, including the entrances of Maxim’s and Yoshinoya outlets and the door of a building at Yi Pei Square.

Earlier in the day, protesters in Tsuen Wan threw Molotov cocktails at police officers, who fired warning shots and tear gas in response; one person suffered gunshot wounds. Elsewhere, protesters threw Molotov cocktails at the Bank of China branch in the Tin Hau area of Wan Chai. Earlier in the day, police officers in Tau Ma Tei fired warning shots at the intersection of Nathan and Waterloo roads after protesters armed with projectiles and sticks attacked a police vehicle and assaulted police officers. Police officers also deployed tear gas and organized police charges in Wong Tai Sin, Sham Shui Po and Sha Tin. In Admiralty, police officers fired tear gas and clashed with demonstrators near the government headquarters. In Tuen Mun, security personnel deployed tear gas to disperse protesters, who allegedly spread acid; at least two people allegedly suffered acid burns. Police officers also engaged in street clashes with protesters in Mong Kok. In total, at least 31 people have been injured thus far in the protests that have taken place across Hong Kong throughout the day.

Authorities have closed 43 of Hong Kong’s 91 MTR stations. Furthermore, local authorities stated that railway services in the city could be seriously disrupted after protesters threw Molotov cocktails at Tseun Wan and Tai Wai MTR stations. A limited number of train and bus services to Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH/HKG) have remained operational. Airport operations are also continuing as normal.

Analyst Comment: The unrest broke out during unsanctioned anti-government demonstrations on the 70th National Day of the People’s Republic of China. Clashes that are continuing on 1 October mark a further escalation of the protest-related situation in Hong Kong. Violent protests will very likely continue into 2 October; additional protests and associated violence are highly probable throughout the remainder of this week.

Finland (Security threat level – 2): On 1 October 2019, a sword attack occurred at a college located in a shopping center in the eastern Finnish city of Kuopio. Police officers responded to the incident and opened fire on the attacker. At least one person was killed and 10 others were injured in the attack. Police officers arrested the assailant and cordoned off the shopping center. It is yet unknown if the event was terrorism related; authorities have launched an investigation to determine the possible motive of the perpetrator.

Spain (Security threat level – 3): Protesters in the Catalonia region plan to gather at a number of locations throughout the day on 1 October 2019 to mark the second anniversary of the independence referendum. In Girona, several hundred protesters gathered in the morning, blocked roads and threw projectiles at police officers. Police officers did not conduct any arrests during the protest in Girona. A larger demonstration is planned to occur in Barcelona later in the evening. A large security presence is expected throughout the city, particularly near train stations and transportation hubs.

Kenya (Security threat level – 4): On 30 September 2019, reports emerged that Somalia-based al-Shabab militants have threatened to carry out attacks at several prominent sites along Kenya’s southern coast, including beaches and hotels in Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties. In Mombasa, targets reportedly also include Moi International Airport (HKMO/MBA), the Standard Gauge Railway terminus and the headquarters of the Kenya Ports Authority. Security personnel are on high alert in response to the threat. Moreover, on the morning of 1 October, Kenyan police officers conducted a counterterrorism operation in Likoni, located in Mombasa county, in response to the intelligence. Security personnel killed at least three suspected al-Shabab militants and arrested seven others during the raid. Officers also seized a large cache of weapons, including military-grade firearms, ammunition and several knives. The alleged militants were also in possession of religious materials and police uniforms. Travelers and expatriates in Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale should expect increased security in light of the threat.

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): On 1 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta issued a Demonstration Alert that reads in part as follows: “Location: Nationwide

“Since September 24, political demonstrations have occurred in various cities Indonesia-wide. These demonstrations, which can take place with little or no notice, are likely to continue. Most of the protests have been organized outside of government buildings, but some have spilled over into residential, public, and retail areas.

“While these protests have generally been peaceful, there have been confrontations between protest groups and the police. Most of the violence has taken place during the nighttime. Protesters have set fires and thrown Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and rocks. Police have responded with crowd control measures such as tear gas and water cannons.”

Malaysia (Security threat level – 3): On 30 September 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: Eastern Area of Sabah State

“Issue: Potential for kidnappings

“The Embassy would like to remind U.S. Citizens that there is a threat of kidnappings-for-ransom from both terrorist and criminal groups. These groups may attack with little to no warning targeting coastal resorts, island resorts, and boats ferrying tourists to resort islands.

“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in eastern Sabah. U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to parts of eastern Sabah.”

Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 1 October 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows: “Location: Gaddafi Stadium and surrounding areas, Lahore, Pakistan

“Event: Cricket matches between the Pakistani and Sri Lankan national teams will take place at Gaddafi Stadium on October 5, 7, and 9, 2019. The events will result in widespread, significant traffic disruptions, including in the area of the U.S. Consulate General, caused by blocked streets, security checkpoints, and a potential influx of fans wanting to see the matches.

“U.S. government personnel are advised to limit their movements in the city during this period.”

Peru (Security threat level – 3):

On 1 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Lima issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: 

“Location: Lima, Peru

“Event: The Embassy is aware of the possibility of demonstrations throughout the country and is monitoring the situation. Demonstrations last night were largely peaceful. Access to certain areas may be restricted and there may be a greater police presence. Even nominally peaceful demonstrations and large gatherings have the potential to become unruly without warning.” 

Wednesday 02 October 2019:

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): Opposition leaders have called for a large-scale protest to paralyze the capital Port-au-Prince on 2 October 2019; however, no reports have emerged regarding protests in the city as yet. Tactics during recent demonstrations have included burning tires, road blockades and arson of buildings; violent clashes between protesters and police officers have broken out during the most recent protest actions. Protesters have engaged in significant, violent demonstrations since 27 September to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse as the overall economic conditions in Haiti deteriorate. In addition to rising inflation, shortages of fuel, food and potable water are ongoing in the city and elsewhere in Haiti.

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): A large-scale demonstration to mark the 51st anniversary of the violent suppression of a student protest is scheduled to begin in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco area at 1600 local time (1900 UTC) on 2 October 2019. In view of the planned protest, authorities have deployed approximately 12,000 security personnel across the city. The protest will likely cause major traffic disruptions in the city. Violence is an ever-present concern during such gatherings, although this particular demonstration is expected to remain peaceful.

China (Security threat level – 3): On 2 October 2019, an impromptu demonstration occurred in Hong Kong, during which thousands of demonstrators rallied throughout the city in response to the shooting of a protester by police officers during clashes that occurred in Tsuen Wan district the previous day. In Chater Garden in Central district, thousands gathered in solidarity with the wounded demonstrator and to protest against violent unrest in the city. Meanwhile, in Tsuen Wan, hundreds of students participated in a “sit-in” outside the school of the protester who was shot. Elsewhere, student protesters in Kwun Tong and Aberdeen formed human chains. Protesters are also demanding independent investigations into the actions of police officers. At least 104 people were injured during protests on 1 October and another 269 were arrested.

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): Beginning at 1300 local time on 2 October 2019, tens of thousands of members of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) demonstrated outside the People’s Consultative Assembly compound in Senayan, Central Jakarta to protest against labor, wage and health insurance regulations. The peaceful demonstration lasted approximately three hours. At least 6,000 police officers were deployed during the event to maintain security and manage traffic; roads near the parliament building were temporarily closed to accommodate the protesters.

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 2 October 2019, security personnel fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters across Baghdad for the second day in a row. Riot police officers fired warning shots and tear gas near Tahrir Square, as well as in the Zaafaraniya, al-Batawin and al-Shaab neighborhoods. Meanwhile, protesters are marching toward Tahrir Square and are burning tires in several protest locations, as of last report. Earlier in the morning, the Iraqi Army deployed across the city in anticipation of the protests, and security forces blocked several roads in the city, including the bridge that leads to the International Zone. Thus far, at least eight people have been injured in Zaafaraniya on 2 October.

On the previous day, riot police officers in Baghdad fired live ammunition, water cannons and tear gas at protesters. In addition to the protests in Baghdad, demonstrators rallied in cities across southern Iraq, including Basra, Dhi Qar, Nasiriyah,Misyan, Wasit and Diwaniyah governorates. Police officers forcibly dispersed protesters in Basra and in Nasiriyah, where security forces killed one person. In total, at least three people were killed and 200 others were injured, including 40 police officers, during the unrest on 1 October. Demonstrators are protesting against corruption and lack of basic services.

El Salvador (Security threat level – 4): On 1 October 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for El Salvador and lowered its level of advice  from  "Level 3: Reconsider Travel" to "Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution." The updated Travel Advisory reads in part as follows:

"Exercise increased caution when traveling to El Salvador due to crime.

"Country Summary: Violent crime, such as murder, assault, rape, and armed robbery, is common. Gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and narcotics and arms trafficking, is widespread. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents."  

Thursday 03 October 2019:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”