Critical global developments with particular regard to terrorist threats, political strife, strikes, criminal activity, aviation incidents and health outbreaks
- United States (2)
- South Korea
- Turkey (2)
- United Kingdom
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
- Democratic Republic Of The Congo
Security Threat Level Explanation
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.
HOT SPOTS REPORTS
United States (Security threat level - 2): At approximately 1945 local time (0145 UTC) on 6 November 2016, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake struck 50 mi/85 km northeast of Oklahoma City, producing tremors that were felt in the neighboring states of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas. The earthquake was centered in the city of Cushing, which hosts one of the largest oil storage facilities in the world, and had a shallow depth of 3 mi/5 km. Despite concerns over potential damage to the storage infrastructure, the state’s Pipeline Safety Department stated that there were no indications of any problems. The Cushing Police Department reported damage to commercial buildings, but Oklahoma transportation officials stated that state highways and bridges within a 15 mi/25 km radius of the epicenter did not incur damage from the quake. Aside from minor injuries, there were no reports of casualties.
United States (Security threat level - 2): Public transportation workers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, reached a preliminary agreement to end their strike on 7 November 2016. Approximately 4,700 unionized Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) workers launched the labor action on 1 November to demand improved benefits. Officials expect limited services to be available by the evening rush hour on 7 November; services should normalize fully within 24 hours.
Analyst Comment: Beijing’s decision to block the two lawmakers demonstrates the limits of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, amid pressure from Chinese officials to bring Hong Kong more fully under the mainland’s political control. While a court must review the decision, it caused concern regarding the stability of the current legal arrangement between China and Hong Kong. Travelers should expect further demonstrations, as tensions will likely rise between pro-democracy activists and Chinese authorities over the degree of Hong Kong’s autonomy from the mainland.
Pakistan (Security threat level - 5): On 7 November 2016, police forces clashed in Karachi with Shiite demonstrators who were protesting the arrests of a Shiite cleric and Shiite politicians. Police officers used tear gas to disperse protesters who were blocking the National Highway. Likewise, police officers used force against demonstrators who blocked railway tracks in Karachi’s Malir and Model Colony areas. The protests caused transportation disruptions and forced schools in the vicinity to close down; there were no reports of casualties. Shiite protests also occurred in Karachi on 6 November; approximately 150 people marched along Iqbal Road, blocking the roadway at the Liaquat Bagh intersection. The demonstrators maintained the blockade for approximately two hours, before dispersing at 1700 local time (1200 UTC). Addressing the arrests that triggered the protests, police authorities claim that they detained members of both Shiite and Sunni groups for involvement in past sectarian-motivated killings in Karachi.
South Korea (Security threat level - 2): As expected, on 5 November 2016, tens of thousands of people gathered in the streets of downtown Seoul to demand President Park Geun-hye’s resignation, amid an ongoing political scandal. In one of the largest anti-government demonstrations to take place in a year, authorities estimated that approximately 45,000 people participated in the demonstration, but protest organizers reported a turnout of about 200,000 people. The demonstrators marched in the streets surrounding city hall, and some participants blocked nearby roads. There were no reports of violence during the protest. Police officers set up a tight perimeter in the streets around Gwanghwamun square and closed off roadways leading to the presidential office and residence.
Italy (Security threat level - 3): On 5 November 2016, clashes broke out when several hundred anti-government protesters attempted to march to the venue of a political convention in central Florence. Reports stated that protesters used cobblestones, sticks, smoke bombs and firecrackers to attack police forces, who responded with tear gas. Some protesters also attempted to drag metal fences into the streets to block police officers. The clashes severely disrupted traffic. The demonstration occurred in the context of a major constitutional referendum that would reduce the senate's power and size, and would also replace elected senators with presumably government-selected representatives. Continued protests are highly likely in the weeks leading up to the vote on 4 December.
Turkey (Security threat level - 4): At approximately 0100 local time on 6 November 2016 (2200 UTC on 5 November), a security incident occurred outside Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport (LTBA/IST), prompting a temporary closure of the facility. Two men on a motorcycle ignored orders from police officers to stop their vehicle at a police checkpoint, then opened fire, at which point security forces fired back, wounding one of the gunmen. Reports indicate that authorities apprehended both suspects and did not find additional weapons or explosives on their persons. Officials briefly placed the airport on lockdown but reopened the facility at approximately 0130 local time. Authorities also briefly closed roads to and from the area in an effort to restrict vehicular traffic at the facility. The incident reportedly did not affect flights, and the gunfire harmed no civilians or police officers.
Analyst Comment: Although the motive for the shooting remains unclear, officials at the airport are likely to heighten security measures in the wake of the incident. These measures may affect traffic to and from the facility. The shooting is particularly salient due to recent terrorist attacks targeting airport facilities in Europe, including one attack at Ataturk Airport in June, in which terrorists used guns and explosives to kill 41 people and injure at least 240 others. Militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Islamic State (IS) have recently carried out attacks targeting Turkish civilians and facilities.
Turkey (Security threat level - 4): On 5 November 2016, protesters clashed with security forces in the Sisli district of Istanbul during a demonstration against the arrests of nine staff members of Cumhuriyet, the main pro-opposition newspaper, earlier that day. Security forces used stun grenades, water cannons, pepper spray and tear gas against the several hundred protesters, blocking them from marching to the Cumhuriyet offices. More than one dozen participants were arrested. The demonstration severely disrupted traffic in the area, particularly as police forces chased protesters through standing traffic, down sidewalks and through alleys. Many businesses in the area locked their doors, keeping shoppers inside, away from the tear gas and violence. The day prior, several politicians of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) -- including the two co-chairs of the party -- were arrested. Authorities alleged that the detainees had terrorism links, but the move prompted protests, as government opponents consider the arrests an attempt to further consolidate power and marginalize the HDP under the guise of the state of emergency.
United Kingdom (Security threat level - 2): On 5 November 2016, at least 47 people were arrested during the annual Million Mask March in London. The demonstration began in Trafalgar Square, where thousands of people gathered in support of the hacker group Anonymous. Clashes briefly broke out when police forces formed a barricade to keep protesters within the space formally approved for the event. Authorities had increased the security presence at the rally site out of concerns of violence, which has occurred during past Million Mask March events in London.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Iraq (Security threat level - 5): In the morning hours of 6 November 2016, two suicide bombings occurred in the cities of Tikrit and Samarra. In Tikrit, a bomber driving an ambulance killed 13 people after detonating explosives at the southern entrance to the city. Another assailant detonated his vehicle in a parking lot for Shiite pilgrims who were visiting al-Askari mosque in Samarra, killing at least eight people, including Iranian nationals. Following the attacks, authorities in both cities issued curfews.
Analyst Comment: Al-Askari shrine in Samarra is one of the most important shrines for Shiite Muslims, and attacks at the venue are especially sensitive in terms of sectarian relations in Iraq. A bombing at al-Askari by al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in 2006 sparked widespread revenge attacks by Shiite militias across the country. No retaliatory violence has occurred thus far in response to the 6 November incident, but the situation bears close monitoring.
Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level - 5): On 5 November 2016, protesters clashed with security forces in Kinshasa while defying a ban on public protests and rallies. Police officers dressed in riot gear patrolled the city in armored trucks and employed tear gas to disperse a small group of protesters near the entrance to the Limete neighborhood, where the residence of opposition leader’s Etienne Tshisekedi’s is located. In addition, security forces blocked all the streets and sidewalks surrounding Tshisekedi’s home. In another measure aimed at preventing a planned opposition rally from taking place, authorities organized an 11-hour-long sporting event at the Stade des Martyrs, where the gathering was supposed to occur. Tshisekedi, who had been scheduled to address supporters near the Limete district, canceled the rally due to concerns of further violence. The government disabled radio and internet signals for Radio France Internationale and Radio Okapi, a measure which officials have repeatedly used in efforts to prevent demonstrations.
In a related development on 6 November, Lubumbashi city authorities denied the opposition Rassemblement coalition a permit to protest on 12 November. The opposition rally was planned to begin at 1400 local time (1200 UTC). It is not known whether the opposition will attempt to stage the demonstration despite the lack of authorization.
Guinea-Bissau (Security threat level - 4): On 5 November 2016, hundreds of people marched on the presidential palace in Bissau in protest of the country’s current political crisis. The demonstrators called for President Jose Mario Vaz’s resignation, the dissolution of parliament and new elections. Riot police officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd. The protest took place as a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) arrived in Bissau to help rival political factions implement an agreement to end political infighting and appoint a new prime minister.
Chad (Security threat level - 5): On 4 November 2016, the U.S. Department of State updated its Travel Warning for Chad, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of ongoing terrorist activity throughout Chad. U.S. citizens should avoid all travel to the border regions, and exercise extreme caution elsewhere in the country. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services outside of N’Djamena is limited. This replaces the Travel Warning issued on April 18, 2016.
“Violent extremist organizations in the region, such as Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – West Africa, (ISIL-WA), and al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) can easily cross borders and target Westerners, local security forces, and civilians in the Lake Chad region. Boko Haram conducted suicide attacks in N’Djamena targeting police facilities and a market in 2015 killing dozens. Kidnapping for ransom is also a threat in the region. Furthermore, there are minefields along the borders with Libya and Sudan, and any border crossing may close without warning.
“Exercise extreme caution throughout the country due to the threat of indiscriminate violence and crime. U.S. citizens should be vigilant at public gatherings and locations frequented by foreigners, including markets, hotels, restaurants, bars, and places of worship. Maintain situational awareness and avoid crowds, as even peaceful gatherings can turn violent unexpectedly.
“U.S. Embassy personnel are subject to restrictions when traveling in certain areas of N’Djamena as well as outside of the capital. U.S. citizens affiliated with humanitarian relief efforts should develop an evacuation plan with the United Nations agency coordinating their work. All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely solely on U.S. government assistance.”
- Time: 1800
- Where: Arch of Galerius, Kamera
- Who: Anti-authoritarians, ANTARSYA
“The security environment around the southern claw is fluid and uncertain. Some relief convoys and other vehicles have been subject to robbery at improvised roadblocks or when stopped. U.S. citizens approaching roadblocks are advised to turn back, as the situation will likely not improve beyond the first roadblock. Distribution points have also been the scenes of mob actions that have overwhelmed available security. U.S. citizens are advised to maintain a high degree of vigilance and leave any areas where crowds gather.
“This Travel Warning continues to inform U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti about the lack of adequate emergency medical facilities, and the security environment in Haiti. Haiti’s emergency response network, along with the continued presence of serious crime and civil unrest, should be carefully considered when planning travel. This replaces the Travel Warning dated October 7, 2016, and provides updated information regarding the changing nature of crime involving United States citizens in Haiti.”
The full text of the Travel Warning is available here.
"Recent criminal attacks include the October 24 robbery of and shooting at the Sanankoroba toll station on the road to Sikasso that left three people dead, the October 27 robbery and shooting outside EcoBank in the Quartier du Fleuve section of Bamako, and the October 28 attack and robbery of a shopkeeper with a knife.
"Due to these recent attacks, Malian security officials have increased the security presence in the city and begun conducting identity checks, vehicle stops, and checkpoints on Bamako’s three bridges beginning at 22:00 each evening."