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HOT SPOTS FOR TRAVELLERS

Hot Spots Report

AMERICAS

Chile (Security threat level - 2): As planned, on 28 May 2015, thousands of students took to the streets of Santiago to protest against what they consider inadequate education reforms and police “brutality.” Protests were reported during the morning and evening; the protests during the morning were less violent than the ones that took place later in the day. In the morning, students used burning debris to block traffic and held demonstrations outside the Education Ministry and state television network. Police officers dispersed the protesters and arrested at least 58 people. However, the protesters later regrouped and took to the streets again in the evening. During these demonstrations, hooded protesters gathered outside the Government House, where they set up burning barricades and attempted to loot several businesses, including a pharmacy and a bank. The students threw stones at the police officers, who responded by firing tear gas and water cannons. At least 172 people were arrested during the evening disturbances, including 26 for robbery. At least nine police officers were injured in the clashes.

ASIA

Japan (Security threat level - 1): On 29 May 2015, Mount Shindake erupted at approximately 1000 local time (0100 UTC), ejecting large quantities of ash into the sky. The volcano is located on the island of Kuchinoerabu in the Ryukyu island chain. The entire population of approximately 140 people has been ordered to evacuate the island. Mount Shindake was dormant for 34 years before erupting in August 2014. The island is remote, and can only be reached by helicopter or a once-a-day ferry from the island of Yakushima, located 7 mi/12 km to the east.

EUROPE

Greece (Security threat level - 2): The threat of a 48-hour strike in the Greek aviation sector persists as of 29 May 2015. Negotiations are ongoing between the Greek Federation of Civil Aviation Authority (OYSPA) and the government. If the talks fail, the strike is scheduled to begin on 31 May and will likely affect air travel to varying degrees throughout the country. At this time, it remains unclear whether air traffic controllers will join the strike. OYSPA is seeking additional funding to modernize aviation infrastructure.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iraq (Security threat level - 5): On 29 May 2015, twin car bombings took place in front of two upscale hotels in central Baghdad. The attacks targeted the Babylon hotel and the Ishtar hotel (formerly the Sheraton), both of which are frequented by foreign travelers. The bombings killed 15 people and injured 42 others. The second bombing also caused damage to al-Alawiyah nightclub, which is adjacent to the Ishtar hotel. In addition, authorities found and defused a third car bomb near the Babil Hotel.

There has been no claim of responsibility, but an Iraqi counter-terrorism official blamed Islamic State (IS), and the incident is consistent with previous attacks by the group against Western targets in Iraq. This is the first direct assault against a Western target in Iraq since IS seized the city of Ramadi, the capital of al-Anbar province. On 17 April 2015, a similar attack took place outside the perimeter gate of the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, injuring two Western nationals at a restaurant across the street.
Saudi Arabia (Security threat level - 3): On 29 May 2015, a bombing occurred in the parking lot of al-Anoud, a Shiite mosque located in the eastern city of Dammam. Police officers spotted a suspicious vehicle and started walked toward it, at which point a detonation occurred; some reports indicate that the assailant was dressed in women's clothing and was walking toward the mosque when the detonation occurred. Authorities stated that the perpetrator had intended to stage an attack inside the mosque, targeting worshipers who were attending Friday prayers. The blast killed four people, including the car's driver. Dammam is located just 2 mi/3 km south of al-Qatif, where a 22 May 2015 bombing at a Shiite mosque killed 20 people and wounded more than 50 others. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Kenya (Security threat level - 4): On 29 May 2015, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade updated its travel advice, which reads in part as follows: “Since Wednesday 27 May, demonstrations and rioting have occurred near Naivasha causing disruptions. Further demonstrations are likely. We continue to advise Australians in Kenya to avoid protests and political rallies as they may turn violent.”

Nigeria (Security threat level - 5): On 28 May 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja issued a Security Message, which reads in part as follows: “The Presidential Inauguration will be held in Abuja on May 29, 2015. There will be a heavy security presence throughout the city on May 28 and 29. Additional security checkpoints and traffic delays can be expected.

“The following areas will be heavily impacted by security measures and should be avoided:

  • Transcorp Hilton compound and surrounding streets
  • Hotel Sheraton and surrounding streets
  • Eagle Square and surrounding streets
  • Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport
  • The Presidential Villa and surrounding streets

“The Nigerian National Police Force (NPF) increases its security posture during special events in Abuja and additional checkpoints can be expected. It is mandatory to stop at legitimate Nigerian checkpoints when directed. U.S. citizens are advised to anticipate unexpected delays throughout the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and plan accordingly.”

Turkey (Security threat level - 3): On 29 May 2015, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued updated advice for Turkey that includes the following: “Protests may increase ahead of the 7 June 2015 general elections. There have been several violent attacks on the offices of political parties during the campaign period. There may also be protests and further violence after the election, depending on the results. You should avoid all demonstrations.”

Turkey (Security threat level - 3): On 29 May 2015, U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Turkey, which includes the following: "The weekend of 30 May marks the 2nd anniversary of the Gezi Park protests and demonstrations are expected in Istanbul: on 30 May in Karakoy and on 31 May in Gezi Park and Besiktas. A number of political rallies are also planned for 30-31 May including in the Yenikapa and Kazlicesme districts of Istanbul. Be vigilant and avoid all demonstrations."
Venezuela (Security threat level - 4): On 28 May 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued the following Security Message: “The U.S. Embassy in Caracas has received reports indicating that at least seven people have been victims of ’express kidnappings’ in and around the municipality of El Hatillo in Caracas since Friday, May 22nd, 2015.

"The criminal group carrying out the attacks is composed of at least six heavily-armed men who travel in two SUVs. Victims have been taken off of the street in several locations in El Hatillo and are held in the criminals’ vehicles and driven through various parts of Caracas while a ransom is negotiated.

“The primary motivation behind express kidnappings is to obtain as much money from a victim as possible in a short period of time, usually a matter of hours. Generally, the kidnappers will treat their victims reasonably well, provided they are cooperative. They will encourage the victim to contact as many friends and family members as possible–using their personal cellular telephone–to have them pool money for a ransom.

“The Embassy offers the following recommendations:

“MAINTAIN A SURVIVAL MENTALITY!

“REMAIN CALM – While the first few minutes of abduction can present the best opportunity to thwart the attempt, it is well known that during a hostage-taking situation or abduction they are also the most dangerous, especially if the victim resists capture. Often kidnappers use multiple, armed attackers to overwhelm and subdue their victims, making escape unrealistic and not worth the increased danger presented by resistance. Think rationally and be cooperative.

“BE OBSERVANT – You should try to observe and remember as much as possible in order to help you escape if the opportunity arises, to predict your abductor’s next moves, and to give information to the police to help apprehend the kidnapper(s). Be prepared to use all of your senses, i.e. hearing, touch or smell, particularly since many times victims are blindfolded. Observe your kidnappers and gather information on your surroundings. This should be done only up to the point to where you make the judgment call that to go further will place yourself in further jeopardy. Finally, take note of your personal condition, i.e. any injuries, are you bound, etc.

“ESTABLISH RAPPORT – Make a reasonable attempt to establish a rapport with your abductor(s). Avoid discussing anything that may aggravate your situation, i.e. politics, or agitate the kidnappers. The stronger a bond you can build with your captors, the more hesitant they will be to harm you.

“BE A GOOD LISTENER – Be empathetic, within reason, so the abductor(s) will feel more comfortable around you and more benevolent toward you. Being a good listener can also help you gather information.

“IF A RESCUE ATTEMPT IS MADE – Aside from the first few minutes of abduction, a rescue attempt is the most dangerous period in a hostage situation. When a rescue attempt occurs, get behind some kind of protective barrier (under a desk or table, for example, or in a bathtub), lay flat and protect your head with your hands. Do not make sudden movements when armed rescuers burst in. Follow the rescuers’ instructions carefully. Obey all commands they give.

“RANSOM – As outlined in 7 FAM 1823, the U.S. Government will make no concessions to individuals or groups holding official or private U.S. citizens hostage. The United States will use every appropriate resource–including working with host government authorities–to gain safe release of U.S. citizens who are held hostage. At the same time, it is U.S. Government policy to deny hostage takers the benefits of ransom, prisoner releases, policy changes, or other acts of concession. …”


SIGNIFICANT DATES

29 May

France: French Open in Paris
Nepal: Republic Day
Nigeria: Democracy Day

30 May

Anguilla / Lesser Antilles: Anguilla Day
France: French Open in Paris
Trinidad & Tobago: Indian Arrival Day
Ukraine: Kiev City Day (various festivities held throughout the city)

31 May

France: French Open in Paris
Ukraine: Kiev City Day (various festivities held throughout the city)

1 June

Angola: Intl Children's Day
Australia: Western Australia Day (Formerly known as Foundation Day)
Bulgaria: Festival of Roses, Valley of the Roses
France: French Open in Paris
Kenya: Madaraka Day
Mongolia: Mother and Child Day (Government offices and some businesses close.)
New Zealand: Queen's Birthday
Singapore: Visaka Bochea Day (Buddha Day). (Some businesses and government offices close.)

2 June

Bulgaria: Botev Day
Burundi: Legislative and municipal elections
France: French Open in Paris
Italy: Anniversary of the Republic (Protests may occur in Rome)

3 June

France: French Open in Paris
Uganda: Martyrs' Day

4 June

British Virgin Islands: Sovereign's Birthday
China: Anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest crackdown
Christianity: Corpus Christi Day
France: French Open in Paris
Malaysia: King's Birthday (Public holiday; businesses and government offices close)

5 June

Bahamas: Labor Day
Denmark: Constitution Day (Bank holiday)
Equatorial Guinea: President's Birthday (Public holiday. Businesses, schools and government offices are closed.)
France: French Open in Paris
Middle East: Naksa Day; commemorates the start of the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and Jordan, Syria and Egypt and the displacement of Palestinians during and after the conflict. Rallies and demonstrations featuring anti-Israel sentiment may take place.
Seychelles: Liberation Day

6 June

France: French Open in Paris
Germany: 2015 UEFA Champions League Final at Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany
South Korea: Memorial Day (Public holiday; businesses and government offices close)
Sweden: National Day

7 June

France: French Open in Paris
Malta: Sette Giugno

8 June

Australia: Queen’s Birthday (Most government offices and businesses close. Not observed in Western Australia.)

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