Double explosion kills four in Kathmandu
On 26 May, four people were killed and at least eight others were injured in three explosions setting off in the Ghattekulo and Sukendhara areas of Kathmandu and in the nearby Chandragiri Municipality. According to local sources, police have also defused devices in the Koteshwor and Gwarko areas, as well as other locations across the country, such as Pokhara and Annapurna. Initial investigations suggested that the explosive devices detonated by accident by the perpetrators, which were activists affiliated to the outlawed Communist Party of Nepal’s Maoist Centre CPN (M).
The authorities believe that the activists were planning on setting off the devices during a general strike, also known as a bandh, planned on 27 May, which was called by the CPN (M) in the first place. The group has officially claimed responsibility for the blasts.
In the aftermath of the attack, sources reported that the Maoist splinter group was under suspicion, as it was suspected to have carried out a similar attack in February.
Solace Global Comment: Since the civil war ended in 2006, and the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006, Nepal has been relatively peaceful. The main arm of the Communist Party of Nepal (not affiliated to the CPN (M)) is even running in the elections in 2020. However, hard-lines factions such as the CPN (M) continue to stage sporadic attacks. As such, there is the potential for further violence. The risk is higher in the Terai region but may also target Kathmandu and other areas of the country.
United States of America
Arkansas and Mississippi rivers close to breaching levees in multiple states
Many rivers in the central United States have been flowing out of their banks since the middle of March, causing growing concern and disruptions. A period of heavy rain at the end of May has caused levees to breach along the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers. This has resulted in thousands of homes being put in danger in the surrounding areas. On Friday, the Dardanelle Levee on the Arkansas River breached, but fortunately, the majority of the residents in the area at risk of flooding had already evacuated beforehand. As it stands, two other levees have seen worryingly high water levels; however, none have failed so far in the state of Arkansas. One levee has failed on the Mississippi River in West Quincy, Missouri.
The concern in the days ahead, according to officials, is the ongoing pressure that the flooding has put on the barriers. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management has stated that they have never held back so much water for such an extended period of time. Should any number of them fail, then the flooding is expected to affect thousands of homes along the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers.
In an effort to tackle the water levels, the Morganza Spillway will be opened as soon as Sunday, 2 June. There has been some criticism that this measure has taken too long to be implemented, but authorities are concerned that the operation of the floodway itself can cause damage to properties in the surrounding region.
Two killed and at least 14 others injured in explosion in Pattani
On 27 May, two people were killed, and 14 others were injured when an improvised explosive device detonated near a market in the Nong Chik district of Pattani. Local sources reported that the attackers intended to harm a crowd of shoppers in what was allegedly retaliation for the killing of a rebel commander by government security forces a few days earlier. Heightened security measures were reportedly set in place in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and four districts of Songkhla. The Thai authorities claimed that a group of separatist insurgents was behind the attack and further related violence cannot be ruled out.
Solace Global Comment: The insurgency’s roots in the south of Thailand date back to the country’s conquest of the Malay Sultanate of Patani in 1948. Since then, Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Yala have become a hotspot of ethnic insurgency which, since the start has led to 6,000 deaths. By the mid-1950s, a separatist insurgency was formed and, since 2004 got worse, with several groups launching regular attacks on civilians and security forces as well as tourist places and transport infrastructure. These have included arson, bombings and shootings. The conflict, even on a low-intensity level, is taking its toll on the local population and their livelihoods.
Since 2006, Martial law has been in place in different areas of southern Thailand. This means that security forces can detain suspects without official charges and apply censorship to the media.
Advice: It is advised against all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and southern Songkhla province due to the heightened threat of attacks and violence. Authorities suggest that attacks can be indiscriminate and there is a high chance for them to occur on symbolic dates or holidays. For this reason, individuals are advised to monitor local media reports and maintain situational awareness at all times, notably in public places. During this time, local security officials have enhanced measures to enforce the rule of law. It is recommended to adhere to instructions and safety measures, such as identity checks, and avoid open criticism of the current government or its officials.
International Quds Day
Protests and counter-protests anticipated on 31 May – 2 June
International Quds Day (often known simply as Quds Day) is an annual event held during the final week of Ramadan, which was created by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to express support for the Palestinians and oppose Zionism and Israel. Local events and celebrations in 2019 will take place between 31 May and 2 June in multiple locations worldwide; including in European, North American and Australian cities, under the auspices of pro-Iranian Muslim organisations. Fiery rhetoric calling for the elimination of the state of Israel is common at Quds Day events.
In previous years, some events have attracted a range of anti-Israeli demonstrators including supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists. Hezbollah flags have been prominently flown in large numbers at several events. A recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks and rhetoric in the west has heightened sensitivities around Quds Day rallies, which are often described as anti-Jewish and have attracted bitter counter-protests. Authorities in several countries have indicated that open support of banned organisations at 2019 Quds Day events will result in arrests.
Solace Global Comment: International Quds Day events have the potential to become violent; for example, events in the Palestinian territories have focused on the Israeli border in recent years and have attracted strong countermeasures from security forces attempting to disperse the large crowds. In 2018, an event in Tehran saw the burning of a large effigy of Donald Trump in response to his decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In Europe, Quds Day events can also often feature violent rhetoric directed at both Israel and the Jewish population. Most recently, a speaker at a 2018 Quds Day event in London, linked Zionists to the burning down of a residential block in London. At the 2018 rally in Berlin, antisemitic signs comparing Zionism with Nazism and calling for a boycott of Israel were widely distributed.
Clashes are also possible, with counter protests planned. In 2018, counter-protesters clashed with police at many events worldwide. Social media sources indicate that Jewish groups in several Western cities are organising demonstrations in opposition to Quds Day events. Support for extremist organisations has also drawn members of the far-right to protest against Quds Day parades. At a 2018 event in London, members of a group of far-right football fans were cleared from the area after attempting to break into the area in which pro-Palestinian demonstrators had congregated in.
Boat capsizes in Danube River killing at least seven people
At 21:00 local time on 29 May a tourist boat carrying 35 people, including 33 South Korean nationals, collided with a cruise ship and capsized on the Danube River in Budapest in the vicinity of the Bulgarian Parliament. Search and rescue operations at the time were affected by strong currents and adverse weather. It has been reported that least seven people were confirmed dead and at least 21 others are missing; however, hopes have now all but faded that the remaining 21 people would be found alive.
Authorities reported that none of the people on board were wearing life jackets and launched a criminal investigation into the cause of the collision. As a result, on 31 May, authorities confirmed that the captain of the cruise ship has been taken into custody. The vessel is set to be lifted from the river in the coming days.
Mandatory evacuation orders issued in Alberta province due to uncontrolled fires
Ongoing wildfires in the northern part of Alberta province have triggered mandatory evacuation warnings in the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River, High Level, Mackenzi county, Northern Lights county, Wabasca, and Big Stone Cree Nation (Alberta province). Due to strong winds and dry conditions, the so-called Chuckegg Creek fire, located southwest of the town of High Level, is spreading at an uncontrolled rate. The authorities have closed Highway 1 between High Level and Hay River, in Northwest Territories and confirmed that a major bridge linking the Northwest Territories to southern Canada in the vicinity of Steen River has been closed, while the CN Rail railway bridge, also at Steen River, has burned down.
It has been reported that emergency services operations are ongoing; however, containment efforts have been hindered by hot temperatures and strong winds. In addition to this, forecasts indicate that fires are expected to continue in the days ahead. Further evacuation warnings and road closures are expected.
Solace Global Advice: Individuals residing under a wildfire warning are advised to adhere to authorities’ instructions and leave as soon as possible by the safest route available. Further information regarding travel disruptions, such as road closures, and evacuation notices are available at: https://511.alberta.ca/#:Alerts
President Trump’s UK state visit, 3-5 June
United States President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania are set to make a state visit to the United Kingdom between 3 and 5 June with a special ceremony, reserved to the heads of state, scheduled at the Buckingham Palace gardens. During his stay, the President will meet members of the royal family including the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex. A private meeting with Theresa May and his participation to the D-Day commemorations on 5 June are also planned.
Thousands of people are expected to gather in London to protest against President Trump. Groups such as the Stop Trump Coalition and Stand Up to Trump have announced that they will be holding demonstrations. During the president’s previous visit to the UK in 2018, an estimated 250,000 people protested in general opposition to Trump’s views on issues such as immigration, climate change and LGBT rights. An anti-Tump protest named Together Against Trump, is scheduled to take place on 4 June from 11:00 in Trafalgar square. Related demonstrations nationwide are also planned, including in Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Belfast.
Advice: Clients and travellers should avoid all gatherings due to the likelihood of delays and congestions. Be aware that clashes between police and protesters are also possible. Additionally, security around the president is extensive, be prepared for delays on roads and extensive security around locations visited by the president.
Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool to be held with record security in Madrid
According to local police, Madrid will deploy a record number of police and security personnel ahead of Saturday, 1 June’s all-English Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. Authorities are expecting around 67,800 fans to attend the clash at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. As a result, 4,700 police will be deployed alongside drones and other remote technology in an effort to help coordinate and keep watch over what the authorities are deeming as a “high risk” event. The police will be supported by civil protection personnel, fire corps and other emergency services, altogether representing the largest security operation that the city has held.
As part of the anti-terrorism efforts, heavy vehicles will be banned from driving near the stadium and designated fan zones for 24 hours starting at 08:00 local time on Saturday, 1 June. Additionally, there are concerns that two groups of English fans, spending the day in the Spanish capital under good weather, may trigger alcohol-fuelled confrontations. In an effort to avoid clashes between rival fans; fans will, therefore, arrive at different airport terminals and take different metro lines to the stadium from their separate meeting places in the city – the Colon Square for Spurs fans, and the Felipe II Square for Liverpool supporters.
Advice: The Spanish capital is likely to be heavily congested for the entirety of Saturday and Sunday. Clients attending the match, or in Madrid this weekend, should employ additional precautions.
- Adhere to all instructions issued by the police and other security officials.
- Play close attention to personal belongings and bags; pickpockets will use the event as an opportunity to target unsuspecting fans and travellers.
- Watch your drinks at bars and other establishments, many are likely to be busy and criminals may target drinks in the chaos.
- Use public transport to travel to the stadium, there will be no parking facilities near the stadium. Be aware that public transport is likely to be overcrowded, as such, ensure you leave an adequate amount of time to complete journeys and for unexpected delays.
- It is expected to be 33 degrees Celsius and sunny on Saturday during the day; ensure you drink enough water to stay hydrated, especially if also consuming alcohol.
- Download the Champions league leaflet for further information; https://finalmadrid2019.esmadrid.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Final-UEFA-Champions-League-1.pdf
- While, given the security, a terrorist attack remains unlikely, Madrid could be the target of terrorist attacks. Remain vigilant at all times and adhere to police instructions. If an attack occurs whilst you are in the stadium, listen carefully to the PA system; if told to evacuate, do so immediately and DO NOT wait around to film or take photos.
SIGNIFICANT DATES & EVENTS
|Date||Country||Event||Potential for Unrest|
|30 May||Anguilla||Anguilla Day||LOW|
|30 May||Trinidad and Tobago||Indian Arrival Day||LOW|
|31 May||Worldwide||International Quds Day||MODERATE|
|1-2 June||Israel||Jerusalem Day||MODERATE|
|1 June||Kenya||Madaraka Day||MODERATE|
|1 June||Mongolia||Mother and Child Day||LOW|
|1 June||Spain||2019 UEFA Champions League football tournament final in Madrid||LOW|
|2 June||Italy||Anniversary of the Republic||LOW|
|3 June||Australia||Western Australia Day||LOW|
|3 June||Uganda||Martyrs’ Day||HIGH|
|4 June||Malaysia||King’s Birthday (public holiday)||MODERATE|
|5 June||Denmark||Constitution Day (Bank holiday)||LOW|
|5 June||Equatorial Guinea||President’s Birthday||MODERATE|
|5 June||Seychelles||Liberation Day||LOW|
|6 June||South Korea||Memorial Day||LOW|
|6 June||Sweden||National Day||NEGLIGIBLE|
|7 June||Bahamas||Labor Day||LOW|
|7 June||China||Dragon Boat Festival||LOW|
|7 June||Malta||National Holiday||LOW|