Weekly Risk Roundup – Week 44

Headlines From This Week

  • One killed and 20 injured after a suicide bomber detonated explosive device in Tunisia’s capital Tunis on 29 October – The explosion occurred just before 14:00 (local time) in the centrally located Avenue Habib Bourguiba, not far from the ministry of interior and the French Embassy. The attack killed the perpetrator, wounding 20 bystanders including 15 members of the security forces, who appear to have been the intended target. The targeted bombing is the first major terror attack in Tunisia since 2015 when a series of attacks led to the government imposing a state of emergency which remains in place. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The 30-year-old female bomber came from a small village outside the coastal city Mahdia (Mahdia governorate). At present, there is no known connection to terrorist organisations although security forces have speculated that family members could be associated with the Islamic State.
  • Demonstrations result in violent confrontation between protesters and security forces in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja – Protests erupted on 29 and 30 October in Abuja over the continued imprisonment of Ibrahim Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN). Shia groups who had gathered to celebrate the Muslim holy day, Arbaeen, on 30 October attempted to march on the city centre but were stopped by Nigerian Security forces. The marchers responded by throwing rocks at the police who subsequently used tear gas and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the gathering. IMN supporters have vowed to continue their campaign calling for the release of Zakzary, who has been detained since December 2015. Further protests remain possible in the coming days and will likely lead to clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Travellers should leave at the first sign that protesters or security forces are gathering. Further travel disruption is likely as protesters seek to blockade main roads.
  • The Taliban claim 407 attacks over parliamentary and district elections – The largest attack occurred when a suicide bomber detonated their explosives outside a polling centre in Kabul, killing 15 people. There were numerous reports of militants blocking roads near polling centres across the country and polling centres refusing to open over security fears on 7 October, leading to frustration amongst voters. There have been 193 separate security incidents recorded by independent groups highlighting the capability of militants to disrupt the political process. Following the conclusion of voting electoral commission centres have been targeted by suicide bombers in Jalalabad and Kabul in the last week leading to multiple fatalities. Tensions are likely to remain high until the release of the vote around 20 November with further attacks targeting candidates, the electoral commission and vote counting centres likely.
  • Increasing socio-economic issues in Honduras sparks migrant caravan heading to US – Following a social media campaign, several hundred low-income Hondurans who departed from San Pedro grew to 5,000 as they crossed the border to Guatemala on 12 October. The caravan reached the Mexican border by 19 October where they encountered and clashed with Mexican security forces, leading to the death of one migrant. The group is expected to grow as the move towards the US border, isolated clashes between security forces and migrants remain likely.

What To Look Out For Next Week

  • Opposition groups in Brazil have called for mass protests following the election of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro – The Brazil presidential second-round runoff saw controversial right-wing candidate Bolsonaro claim 55 percent of the vote, successfully defeating the left-wing contender Fernando Haddad. Bolsonaro indicated throughout his campaign the desire to implement aggressive economic changes through privatisations, deregulation and reduced public spending which are likely to improve investor confidence in Brazil; however, the president-elect remains a controversial figure and his successful candidacy has already provoked country-wide protests on 30 October. Bolsonaro has promised to relax gun control, while making abortion illegal and any future campaigns to implement such measures is likely to lead to further country-wide civil unrest.
  • Political turmoil shows no sign of abating in Sri Lanka – The political unrest caused by the sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and decision to replace him with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa continues to impact the South Asian country. On 1 November, it appeared that politicians were to be allowed to return to the suspended parliament. However, it has now been communicated by associates of Rajapaksa that parliament will stay shut until 16 November. The decision is a blow for Wickremesinghe, who maintains that he holds a majority in parliament and has been calling for a vote among MPs. There are continued fears that the continued tensions will result in further protest action which has the potential for violence.
  • Protests spread across Pakistan following acquittal of Christian woman imprisoned on blasphemy charges – Widespread protests have broken out in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, leading to the erection of roadblocks on several major roads and severe travel disruption. Hard-line Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), who have been at the forefront of the unrest, have called for nationwide strikes on 2 November following failed talks with the Pakistan government. In response, the government have shut down mobile services in Islamabad and several other provinces. Pakistan’s new prime minister, Imran Khan, threatened a forceful response if protesters did not disperse highlighting the potential for clashes between protesters and security forces. Travellers in Pakistan should minimise movements outside high-security areas in the coming days as unrest is likely to continue. Consider deferring business travel to Pakistan until after 5 November.
  • Tanzanian authorities ask public to name people suspected of being gay – Paul Makonda, regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam, called on the public to report on any person they knew or suspected of being gay. According to local reports a 17-member special committee has been established to investigate the claims.  The team have received over 5,500 messages from the public and identified over 100 individuals. LGBT activists and international human rights groups have condemned the move by the Tanzanian government – stating that thousands of Tanzanians are now living in fear.  Tanzania, a country where it is illegal to be homosexual, has a history of violent attacks against the LGBT community, committed by both the public and security forces.  Travel risk management plans should be updated to included recent developments and additional precautions should be considered by all travellers.