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Worldview Weekly Security Update – July 29, 2019
Monday 29 July 2019:

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): Shortly before 1700 local time (1230 UTC) on 28 July 2019, four militants launched an attack on the headquarters of the Green Trend party, located in Shaheed Circle in Kabul’s Police District 4. A suicide attacker first detonated a car bomb in the area and at least three gunmen then entered the four-story building. A gunbattle between the assailants and security forces ensued and lasted for approximately six hours, during which security personnel rescued more than 100 people, including vice-presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh, and killed the attackers. A total of 20 people were killed and approximately 50 others were injured during the episode. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, both the Islamic State and the Taliban frequently perpetrate such attacks in Kabul.

Analyst Comment: The attack occurred on the first official day of the presidential election campaigning period. Vice-presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh — who suffered minor injuries during the attack — attended a campaign inaugural ceremony along with his running mate and incumbent President Ashraf Ghani earlier in the day. Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in September 2019; an increase in similar attacks against political targets is likely in the lead-up to elections.

Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 27 July 2019, police officers detained more than 1,300 people attempting to hold an unauthorized rally outside the City Hall in central Moscow to protest the exclusion of at least 30 opposition candidates from running in the upcoming 8 September elections for the 45-seat parliament. Riot police officers used batons to disperse the crowd of approximately 8,000 protesters in attendance and conducted arrests. The protest lasted for more than seven hours. A number of protesters suffered moderate injuries, including broken limbs and head wounds. Organizers have called for additional protests to be held in centra

China (Security threat level – 3): Over the weekend of 27-28 July 2019, police officers in Hong Kong clashed with anti-government protesters. On 28 July riot police officers used tear gas to disperse a group of anti-government protesters who had assembled near the Beijing Liaison office in Hong Kong’s Sai Wan district. Protesters initially gathered in Charter Garden, located close to Hong Kong government headquarters, and elsewhere in the central business district, including in Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay. The demonstrators then blocked several major roads in the area, despite a police ban against a protest march following the approved rally at Charter Garden on 28 July. At least 16 people were injured, and police officers arrested 49 protesters.

Meanwhile, on 27 July police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in central Yuen Long, located in the New Territories region, during an unauthorized demonstration to protest a 21 July attack by crime groups on protesters at Yuen Long MTR station. The protesters initially marched peacefully on Yuen Long’s Castle Peak Road; however, at approximately 1720 local time (0920 UTC) security forces deployed tear gas when protesters refused to disperse from the area. Protesters armed with metal poles and makeshift shields entered into a standoff with police officers, who continued to use tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray. Groups of protesters retreated to Yuen Long train station after police officers carried out a baton charge against the protesters. At least 24 people were injured and authorities arrested 13 protesters during these clashes.

In a related development, on 29 July China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office held a press conference to address the ongoing anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong. A spokesperson condemned the protests and expressed support for Hong Kong’s government and police force. The spokesperson reiterated the central government’s commitment to the “one country, two systems” approach and stated that the protest movement must present “no harm to national security, no challenge to the central government’s authority and the Basic Law, and no using Hong Kong as a base to undermine China.”

Furthermore, beginning at 0730 local time on 30 July, Mass Transit Railway (MTR) drivers reportedly plan to strike if MTR management does not respond to three previously submitted demands over the failure of authorities and railway management to respond to the attacks at Yuen Long MTR station on 21 July. However, it remains unknown how many drivers may adhere to the strike. MTR officials stated that they plan to monitor operations for potential disruptions, and implement measures to address any possible disruptions. Additionally, labor groups are calling for a general strike to begin at 1300 local time on 5 August in seven districts including Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan, Wong Tai Sin, Tai Po, Mong Kok, Tuen Mun and Admiralty as part of continued protests against the government.l Moscow on 3 August.

Tuesday 30 July 2019:

Libya (Security threat level – 5): On 29 July 2019, Mitiga Internaitonal Airport (HLLM/MJI) halted flight operations following two consecutive episodes of rocket attacks on the facility. The airport was temporarily closed earlier on 29 July after several rockets targeted the airport. Shortly after resuming operations, another round of rockets targeted the airport, forcing authorities to suspend operations. There were no reports of casualties. Airport officials expect to resume operations at the facility by the morning of 31 July.

Wednesday 31 July 2019:

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 5): On 31 July 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to include information regarding attacks on Ebola responders, which reads in part as follows: "The security situation in eastern DRC remains unstable…There are continued reports of attacks and kidnappings, including against staff from NGOs. There have been a number of reported attacks on Ebola responders working in affected areas."

Paraguay (Security threat level – 3): On 30 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Asunción issued updated travel advice for Paraguay, which reads in part as follows: “Demonstrations are taking place frequently in the downtown area of Asunción, particularly in the proximity of government buildings and offices, often without warning. You should avoid large gatherings, monitor local media and follow the guidance of local authorities.”

Thursday 01 August 2019: NSTR