The Indonesian military has recently deployed troops into the province in an attempt to exert more government control over the population.
Indonesia: On 9 July 2010 thousands of protesters stormed the building housing the local West Papuan legislature in Jayapura. Reports indicate that around 20,000 people took part in the protest, with at least 400 protesters clashing with police officers after they stormed into the government building and occupied the chambers of the legislature. The protest was called after the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP), an upper house of tribal leaders, voted to reject West Papua’s status as an autonomous province, separate from the larger Papua province of far eastern Indonesia. West Papua was created in 2003 by dividing Papua province, and the move came amid widespread public support for independence in the region. The Indonesian military has recently deployed troops into the province in an attempt to exert more government control over the population.
Panama: On 11 July 2010 banana plantation workers reached an agreement with the government to end a 10-day strike, which has caused significant unrest in the city of Changuinola, located in the western Bocas del Toro province. Two strikers were killed amid clashes with police during the labor action; in view of the unrest, the U.S. Department of State issued a Warden Message on 10 July urging travelers to avoid Changuinola. To secure an end to the strike, the government agreed to annul three articles of the controversial “9 in 1” omnibus bill that are related to labor reform, as well as to release detained strikers.
Despite the agreement, other labor unions are continuing with plans to stage a major march on 12 July in Panama City and to launch a general strike at 0001 local time on 13 July. The unions are demanding that the government nullify the entire omnibus bill and reform the penal code, which currently prohibits roadblocks during strikes. Union leaders met on 11 July at the Hotel Soloy in central Panama City to discuss the labor action. More than 100 workers picketed outside the hotel and staged a march to Plaza 5 de Mayo, where police officers arrested 50 protesters. Approximately 400 police officers established a security cordon around the hotel.
Philippines / China: The storm system Conson (“Basyang”) strengthened to tropical storm status on 12 July 2010 while on approach to the eastern coast of Luzon Island in the northern Philippines. According to meteorologists at Wilkens Weather Technologies, the storm is expected to strengthen to a hurricane prior to making landfall and moving across the island in the next 36 hours. Its movement over land is expected to weaken wind speeds and the storm will likely make a second landfall near Hong Kong in southern China as a tropical storm on 16-17 July. As of 0900 UTC, the storm was located approximately 550 mi/880 km east of Manila and was moving west at approximately 13 mph/11 kt. Maximum sustained winds are estimated at 70 mph/60 kt, with gusts of 86 kt/75 kt. In the Philippine provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Aurora, Quezon, including Polilio Island, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes, officials have raised the public storm signal and warned residents in low-lying and mountainous areas of the potential for floods and landslides.
Uganda: On 11 July 2010 at least two near-simultaneous explosions took place in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Reports indicate that at least 64 people were killed, including 11 foreign nationals, and at least 70 others were injured in the attacks. The bombings, which took place at approximately 2230 local time, targeted the Kyadondo Rugby Club and the Ethiopian Village restaurant in the city’s Kabalagala neighborhood, where patrons had gathered to watch the final match of the FIFA World Cup. Some unconfirmed reports state that a third attack took place in Ntinda, an upscale restaurant and business district in northeastern Kampala. Police officers and military forces are patrolling throughout Kampala and have cordoned off the blast sites and several main roads in order to carry out investigations.
“Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, Ugandan authorities believe that the Somali militia group al-Shabaab may be responsible. An al-Shabaab commander has praised the bombings, saying that he was “happy” with the attacks, but did not confirm or deny if the group was responsible. In the past al-Shabaab has issued several threats to attack both Uganda and Burundi to retaliate for their peacekeeping presence in Somalia. Approximately 5,000 African Union troops are currently deployed to Somalia to help prop up the government in its fight against the militants. The choice of targeting an Ethiopian restaurant also suggests that al-Shabaab may be responsible, as the Ethiopian government also supports the Somali government. If it is confirmed that al-Shabaab was responsible, it will be the first attack that the group has perpetrated outside Somalia’s borders. Other suspects in the attacks include the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel groups, which have their origins in Uganda, but currently operate in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Kampala is scheduled to host the annual African Union summit from 19-27 July, and organizers have stated that the summit will go forward as planned.
The 11 July incidents demonstrate that a terrorist organization is capable of carrying out attacks in Kampala, and, although no threats have emerged, additional attacks are possible in the future. Therefore, visitors should maintain vigilance at all times and immediately report any suspicious activity to authorities. Authorities are also advising residents to avoid the attack sites and all large gatherings while the investigation is ongoing. Visitors should also prepare for heightened security measures throughout Kampala for the foreseeable future.”