Global marine security hot spots 13 JAN 14

This selection comes from a variety of sources. Readers seeking validation or references are welcome to do so under their own steam.

ASIA

Philippines (Security threat level - 4): On 12 January 2014, an improvised device exploded at Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology, located in Arakan, an agricultural town in the southern part of North Cotabato province. Emergency service personnel were battling a fire in a security guard dormitory on campus when the explosion occurred. At least 24 people were injured in the incident. Authorities believe that the fire may have been started in order to create a diversion prior to the attack. Some reports claim that an improvised explosive device had been planted in the location, while others allege that the incident was a grenade attack.

Thailand (Security threat level - 3): On 13 January 2014 tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Bangkok to “shut down” the capital as part of an ongoing anti-government movement. The protesters occupied several major streets, including several key intersections, throughout the city. A number of the affected areas are key hotel and business districts, and transportation via automobile was limited throughout much of the city. Public transportation services, such as the subway and the Skytrain, operated normally, as did the city's airports. Despite the shutdown, many shops and businesses in the affected areas remained open. During the night of 12-13 January shots were fired near a protest site manned by members of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). One person was injured, but it has not been confirmed if the man was an anti-government protester. No other instances of violence have been reported since the shutdown began.

Leaders of the PDRC have promised to continue the current campaign to shut down the government and prompt the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Cabinet. Student groups associated with the movement have stated that they will expand the protest to the city's stock exchange headquarters if Yingluck does not step down before 15 January; however, leaders of the PDRC have not made the same threat. A meeting between the Yingluck and anti-government groups could take place on 15 January to address the suggestion by the Election Commission that the 2 February election be delayed.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level - 2): As expected, on 13 January 2014 French taxi driver unions took part in a demonstration that was announced earlier in the month. Although the demonstration was concentrated in Paris, taxi drivers in several French cities took part in the l action to protest allegedly unfair competition from private taxi services. In Paris, beginning at 0600 local time (0500 UTC), several hundred taxi drivers assembled outside Charles de Gaulle Airport (LFPG/CDG) and Orly Airport (LFPO/ORY), smashing the windows and damaging tyres of private cars (VTCs). At approximately 0800 local time, the taxi drivers moved to the Les Invalides area of Paris' city centre, where they caused severe disruption to local transit. Smaller demonstrations were reported in Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Montpelier.

Germany (Security threat level - 2): At approximately 1200 local time (1100 UTC) on 12 January 2014 a Cessna Citation 501 business aircraft crashed in a landfill approximately 15 mi/24 km outside Trier in western Germany. The aircraft is believed to have been travelling from Shoreham Airport (EGKA/ESH) in West Sussex, England, and was attempting to land at Trier-Fohren Airport (EDRT/ZQF). All four people aboard the aircraft -- including two passengers and two crew members -- were killed. The two passengers were a business owner from the Trier region and his wife. Unconfirmed reports stated that the aircraft had a U.S. registry. The aircraft struck a power line and caused a fire as it crashed; no other damage was reported on the ground. Reports stated that the weather was foggy at the time of the incident, but the cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Spain (Security threat level - 2): On 11 January 2014 approximately 100,000 demonstrators gathered in the city of Bilboa (I suspect Bibao)-- which is located in the Basque region -- to protest the arrests of members of the Basque separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). The protesters called for the jailed separatists to be relocated to jails closer to their families. A judge in Madrid prohibited the demonstration on 10 January; however, the ruling was ignored. No incidents of violence were reported.

Spain (Security threat level - 2): On 12 January 2014 riots occurred for the third consecutive day in the city of Burgos, located in northern Spain. The protests began on 10 January following the announcement of a costly urban development project for the city, the government of which is deeply in debt. Protesters subsequently rioted to express discontent with the arrests made on the evening of 10 January. Over the course of the three days, protesters have attempted to disrupt construction work by throwing concrete blocks at work sites and have clashed with police forces. Demonstrators also smashed a window of a Bank Santander branch over the weekend. Thus far, more than 10 police officers have been injured and at least 40 people have been detained.

Ukraine (Security threat level - 3): The largest EuroMaidan protest of 2014 took place in Kiev on 12 January. Approximately 50,000 anti-government protesters gathered in Independence Square and called for the international community to impose sanctions on the Ukrainian government. The action, which remained peaceful, followed protests outside a Kiev courthouse that resulted in clashes overnight on 10-11 January. The demonstrators -- angered by the conviction of three ultra-nationalists for plotting to blow up a statue in 2011 -- blocked buses carrying police officers and the convicted men and then proceeded to throw paint on the windshields and rock the vehicles. One of the EuroMaidan's top organizers, former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, was injured after trying to intervene. At least 20 police officers were also injured, and 11 people were hospitalized. EuroMaidan protesters have remained encamped on Independence Square since November; the next mass protest is expected to occur on 19 January.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Tunisia (Security threat level - 3): During the night of 10-11 January 2014 riots erupted throughout Tunisia over the economic situation in the country. In Tunis' Ettaddamon suburb protesters gathered outside government financial buildings. The protesters clashed with security forces, and looting was reported in the area. Police officers fired tear gas in an effort to disperse the crowds. Approximately 50 people were arrested. Riots also broke out in the affluent La Marsa area of Tunis. Police sources reported that protesters attempted to storm a police station. Additionally, clashes occurred in the town of Bouchebka -- located near the Algerian border -- which resulted in the death of a teenager and injuries to a customs official.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Burundi (Security threat level - 4): On 13 January 2014 the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Burundi, in which it revised the parts of the country to which it recommends against travel. This travel advice reads in part as follows: "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

"All areas within 1 km of the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo; the Kibiria and Ruvubu forests, and all areas within 10km of these two forests; Rukoko National Park in Rusizi nature reserve, Bubanza

"The FCO advise against all but essential travel to all remaining parts of Burundi, except for Bujumbura.

"The FCO do not advise against travel to Bujumbura, but you should take extra precautions in the areas of Kanyosha and Kamenge, where the risk to foreign travellers – particularly of opportunistic crime – is judged to be higher. FCO staff are not permitted to travel in these two areas."

Egypt (Security threat level - 4): On 13 January 2013 the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice which reads in part as follows: “A referendum on a new constitution will take place on 14 and 15 January 2014. Protests and disruption to travel around the country are likely. You are advised to take particular care in the vicinity of polling stations and government buildings, and to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings. Before embarking on a journey seek information about any disruptions to your route and consider your travel plans carefully. …”

Tunisia (Security threat level - 3): On 13 January 2014 the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued updated travel advice which reads in part as follows :
- "Australians should be aware of the potential for spontaneous and unpredictable events, such as political and industrial protests. You should monitor local and international media, avoid protests and take particular care during the period surrounding Friday prayers.
- “Demonstrations may occur on 14 January to mark the third anniversary of the fall of the Ben Ali regime. …”

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.

Security Threat Level Definitions

1 - Security issues rarely affect individuals or organizations. These locations have an extremely low rate of violent crime.

2 - Locations may have several low-level security issues, but these generally have minimal physical impact on individuals and organizations.

3 - Incidents of violent crime, terrorism and/or extremist activity occur more frequently, but are still sporadic.

4 - Incidents such as armed robbery, carjacking, civil unrest, terrorism and/or extremist activity can occur frequently, and there is a greater risk that security issues could physically impact individuals and organizations.

5 - Locations can be affected by rampant violent crime, volatile situations of civil unrest, frequent terrorist extremist attacks and/or open military conflict.
 

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