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HOT SPOTS FOR TRAVELLERS

Hot Spots Report

ASIA

Bangladesh (Security threat level - 4): On 4 March 2015, two small-scale bombs exploded during an Awami League anti-violence rally in the Hazaribagh area of Dhaka. The blasts injured at least 10 people and two people were admitted to the hospital. The bombs were hidden in an area reserved for journalists on site for the demonstration, which was organized in opposition to ongoing transportation blockades implemented by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The attack occurred on the same day that opposition leader Khaleda Zia was supposed to appear in court; however, Zia did not show, likely due to concern that she would be arrested on site. She continues to hide out in her Dhaka office.

Analyst Comment: While small-scale bombings are common in Bangladesh, this incident was unusual due to the targeted nature of the attack. Typically, crude bombings occur throughout Bangladeshi cities to signal the beginning of a citywide strike or blockade. The blasts are meant to keep people off the streets. In this instance, attackers -- likely tied to the opposition -- placed bombs at a rally organized by the ruling party. The potential for an increase in targeted violence is concerning, given how high political tension is in Bangladesh at the moment.
Nepal (Security threat level - 3): A Turkish Airlines A330 aircraft overshot the runway upon landing at Tribhuvan International Airport (VNKT/KTM) in Kathmandu on 4 March 2015, at approximately 0740 local time (0155 UTC). No severe injuries were reported among the approximately 240 people on board. Officials stated that low visibility due to heavy fog contributed to the accident, but the cause has not been firmly established. Before the mishap, the pilots had already attempted one landing then circled the runway for approximately 30 minutes. Following the incident, officials at the airport canceled all outbound and inbound international flights, as airport staff worked to remove the Turkish Airlines aircraft. The cancellations lasted until 1700 local time, and reports indicate that flight operations have resumed.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Libya (Security threat level - 5): Militia groups have seized two of Libya’s major oil fields. On 1 March 2015, Islamist militants began shelling the Bahi and Mabrouk oilfields, located approximately 106 mi/170 km southeast of Sirte. As of 4 March, the militias have gained full control of both locations after Libyan government forces guarding the sites ran out of ammunition and were forced to retreat. Libyan officials stated that the Islamist militants will likely advance on the Dahra field after forces guarding facilities at that location retreated as well.

In a separate development, on 4 March, military aircraft carried out strikes on the western city of Zintan, which is a stronghold of militia groups loyal to the Libyan national government. The airstrikes reportedly targeted a local airstrip, damaging electrical systems but not the runway. The aircraft that carried out the operation are under the control of the rival government based in Tripoli, which is backed by the Libya Dawn Militia group. Both sides are increasingly using airstrikes, which represents a major escalation in the conflict. 


SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

South Africa (Security threat level - 3): Wildfires are continuing to affect Cape Town’s southern peninsula on 4 March 2015. Reports indicate that eight more homes have sustained damage, bringing the total number of affected residences to 13 since the fires began on 1 March. Furthermore, residents in the Noordhoek area were forced to evacuate overnight when winds shifted, threatening to fan the flames toward their homes. The shifting winds also raised concerns in the Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek areas, which are located on the False Bay coast in the east. The area of concern currently runs from Kalk Bay to Hout Bay in the west on the Atlantic coast, and includes Clovelly, Noordhoek, the upper Tokai area and the lower Constantia Nek. Firefighters hope that cooler weather and rain forecast for 4 March will assist them in their efforts. So far, the fires have affected approximately 4,000 hectares (nearly 10,000 acres) of land. There have been no fatalities or serious injuries, but many people have been treated for smoke inhalation.
Tanzania (Security threat level - 3): Heavy rains, hail and strong winds struck the northwest Shinyanga region on 3 March 2015. The region’s Kahama district, located approximately 95 mi/150 km south of Lake Victoria, was the worst affected. The inclement weather affected approximately 3,500 people and displaced hundreds of others. Additionally, at least 38 people were killed as a result of flooding. The region is a popular tourist area, as it has many national parks and game reserves, including the popular Serengeti National Park. Transportation in the area has been severely disrupted, as many roads are reportedly impassable.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Pakistan (Security threat level - 5): On 4 March 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan issued a Security Message, which reads in part as follows: "Heightened Threat Against Private Venues in Pakistan

"Based on recent media reports and conversations with security officials, we believe there is a heightened threat against government buildings and other prominent locations including private membership institutions, hotels, and restaurants in cities in Pakistan.

"Updated Information on Travel and Security

"The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan urges U.S. citizens to vary their times and routes when traveling anywhere in Pakistan, and to avoid travel patterns to such locations that would allow other persons to predict when and where they will be. Depending on ongoing security assessments, and as part of routine operational security measures, the U.S. Mission occasionally places areas such as hotels, markets, airports, and/or restaurants off limits to official personnel."
Syria (Security threat level - 5): On 3 March 2015, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Warning for Syria, which reads in part as follows: "The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Syria and strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated November 12, 2014, to remind U.S. citizens that the security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable as a civil war between government and armed anti-government groups continues throughout the country, along with an increased risk of kidnappings, bombings, murder, and terrorism."

The full text of the Travel Warning may be accessed by clicking the following link:
http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/syria-travel-warning.html

Venezuela (Security threat level - 4): On 4 March 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued the following Security Message: “The U.S. Embassy wishes to call to the attention of U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Venezuela the Government of Venezuela’s recent detention of several U.S. citizens in Venezuela. Under the Vienna Convention, if you are arrested overseas, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy of your arrest and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy. In practice, the Venezuelan government frequently fails to notify the U.S. Embassy when U.S. citizens are arrested or detained, and/or delays or denies U.S. consular access to U.S. detainees. Please ask friends or family to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately on your behalf should you be detained by government authorities. …”
Venezuela (Security threat level - 4): On 3 March 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued the following message for U.S. citizens: “On March 2, the Venezuela Government published Official Gazette No. 40.611 containing Extraordinary Gazette No. 6.177 (dated February 28, 2015) announcing that all U.S. citizens planning tourism to Venezuela must apply for a tourist visa. No further details are available at this time. Please check with the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC or one of the Venezuelan Consulates in the United States before travelling. …”


SIGNIFICANT DATES

4 March

Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Israel: Purim
Spain: Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

5 March

Asian Calendar: Lantern Festival
Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Hinduism: Holi Phagwa
Israel: Purim
Myanmar: Full Moon of Tabaung
Spain: Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

6 March

Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Ghana: Independence Day

7 March

Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

8 March

Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Eritrea: Women's Day
Nepal: Nepalese Women's Day
Syria: Revolution Day
Worldwide: Women's Day (Observed as a full or partial public holiday in some countries)

9 March

Australia: Canberra Day
Australia: Labour Day (Victoria and Tasmania)
Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Belize: Baron Bliss Day
British Virgin Islands: Commonwealth Day
Commonwealth of Nations: Commonwealth Day
Liberia: Decoration Day

10 March

Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

11 March

Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
India: Nationwide strike of personnel at government-run airports planned
Lesotho: Moshoeshoe's Day
Lithuania: Restoration of Independence Day (Public holiday)

12 March

Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Mauritius: National Day
Zambia: Youth Day

13 March

Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Independence Day
Egypt: Egypt Economic Development Conference - Sharm el-Sheikh

14 March

Albania: Summer Day
Australia / New Zealand: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Egypt: Egypt Economic Development Conference - Sharm el-Sheikh
Lesser Antilles / St. Vincent & the Grenadines: National Heroes' Day

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