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Regional Intelligence roundup to 4th May

Regional Intelligence roundup to 4th May 2016



Security forces arrest two suspected militants near In Guezzam
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

According to defence officials, security forces arrested two suspected militants attempting to cross the border with Niger on a motorcycle at 1400 hrs local time near In Guezzam. Authorities seized two AK-47 machine guns and ammunition following the ambush. It was not immediately clear to which militant group the men were affiliated. Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have a presence in southern Algeria.

Army kills suspected militant in Skikda province
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

The ministry of defence said that security forces killed a suspected militant during an operation in Kerkera, Skikda province. Authorities seized a rifle and ammunition during the operation, which comes after security forces killed four suspected militants in the town in April, though initial reports did not clarify whether the incidents were linked. Authorities have subsequently said that those killed in April were members of militant groups in the 1990s.


Red Sea ports reopen following eight-hour closure

Date of incident: 04/05/2016Threat Category: Environment, Maritime

The Red Sea Port Authority said that the Red Sea ports of Adabia goods port, Zeiteyat petroleum port, and Port Tawfik passengers port reopened following an eight-hour closure due to high wind speeds. The port authorities added that Ain Sokhna port remained closed and would reopen when the weather improved. High wind speeds and sandstorms often trigger brief port closures in the Red Sea.

Security forces foil militant attack in al-Arish
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

According to al-Bawaba News Egypt local media website, security forces failed a militant attack on a security checkpoint in the Bir Lahven district, southern al-Arish, killing two militants and wounding three others. The militants wounded three soldiers in the attack. Initial reports did not name the perpetrators, though the Islamic State-affiliated Sinai Province frequently carries out attacks against security forces in the North Sinai governorate.

Air strikes kill 19 suspected militants near Sheikh Zuweid
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

Local media said that the army killed 19 suspected militants and wounded 25 others in air strikes on Sheikh Zuweid. The army has been carrying out an ongoing offensive against Islamic State-linked Sinai-based militants since 2013.

Train fire disrupts Cairo-Minya rail services
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Infrastructure

According to the Egypt Independent, a major fire broke out on a freight train transporting diesel at Samalout city, injuring two people. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Though emergency services were quick to extinguish the fire, the incident triggered the suspension of traffic on the Cairo-Minya line in both directions. Initial reports did not say when the service would be restored. Rail accidents are common in Egypt, involving both passenger and freight trains.

Washington sends delegation to inspect security measures at airports
Date of incident: 02/05/2016Threat Category: International Relations, Political Violence

A delegation sent by US Congress to test security measures at Egyptian airports arrived in the country. The delegation will inspect all of the processes of securing passengers and luggage, starting from entering the airport until boarding. It will undertake inspections at Sharm el-Sheikh and Cairo airports. The October 2015 downing of a Metrojet plane flying from Sharm el-Sheikh airport to St Petersburg prompted concerns over security standards at the country’s airports.

Peshmerga units capture town in Nineveh
Date of incident: 04/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

Kurdish Peshmerga troops backed by militia forces regained control over the town of Tal-Skuf, north of Mosul, from Islamic State (IS) militants. Tens of IS fighters were killed and wounded in the counter-attack, which was backed by US-led coalition warplanes. The fighting erupted in response to a coordinated IS assault on Peshmerga frontlines at Bashik and Khazir in northern Iraq that began several days earlier. Unnamed sources quoted by Iraqi News claimed that IS used more than 40 suicide bombers and 25 car bombs in the offensive, though these figures were not verified independently.

Police suspect sabotage in Kirkuk oil well fires
Date of incident: 04/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence


Officials said sabotage was likely responsible for a blaze at two wells at the Khabazz fields near the village of Katahiya in Kirkuk province. Authorities said explosives were located at a third nearby well and that bomb disposal experts were attempting to defuse that device. Another well was also targeted with explosives but it failed to catch on fire. The Islamic State group was blamed for a similar attack at the Khabazz field in October 2015 but no group has claimed responsibility for the latest incident.

Officials tighten security in Baghdad amid fears of unrest
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Civil Unrest

Security measures in Baghdad were heightened and officials banned the entry of pilgrims from 1500 hrs local time as religious commemorations for a Shi’a saint, Imam Musa Kazim, came to a close. Road blocks and other restrictions remained in effect amid fears that supporters of Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr would resume disruptive anti-government protests in the capital. Pro-Sadr demonstrators withdrew from the heavily fortified Green Zone on 1 May after they stormed parliament, but the cleric warned of another mass protest on 6 May, and there is concern demonstrations may also occur in other predominantly Shi’a parts of the country.

Gaza militants fire mortar at security patrol
Date of incident: 04/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

According to local media, unidentified Gaza-based militants targeted an Israeli security forces patrol at a border fence in a mortar attack. The military said that it responded with tank fire against a Hamas position, causing minor damage. There were no immediate reports of injuries on either side. The incident marks the second militant firing from Gaza in less than 24 hours, after a small-arms incident on 3 May.

Unidentified militants attack soldiers near Gaza
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

Israeli military officials said that unidentified militants attacked a security forces patrol on the northern border of Gaza, damaging army machinery but causing no casualties. Palestinian media said that Israeli forces retaliated with fire from Nahal Oz following the attack. The incident comes amid an increase in tensions in the Palestinian enclave in recent days.

Authorities arrest suspected militant in Tripoli
Date of incident: 01/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

Officials said that authorities arrested a Syrian-Australian national in Tripoli over alleged funding for a militant organisation. According to the Associated Press, unconfirmed reports said that the man was linked to the Islamic State militant group and had been planning an attack. Arrests of suspected militants are common in Lebanon, particularly in areas near the border with Syria where militant groups are active.

Militia groups clash near Zillah
Date of incident: 04/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

According to the Libya Observer, Jufra revolutionaries and Misrata Military Council forces clashed with forces affiliated with General Khalifa Haftar around 40 km west of Zillah. Casualty numbers were not immediately confirmed. The incident comes amid reports of mobilisation by Haftar’s forces against Islamic State militant positions in central Libya.

Eastern government blocks crude loading at Marsa el-Hariga
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Regulatory Environment, Maritime

Officials said that the eastern National Oil Corporation affiliated with the eastern government blocked workers at the Marsa el-Hariga port from loading crude oil onto a tanker from the rival western government, based in Tripoli. The move comes amid an ongoing dispute between two rival authorities in Libya over the export of oil. On 28 April, the eastern National Oil Corporation failed to export a 650,000 barrel shipment of oil after a UN decision to blacklist the carrier. The move threatens to further disrupt Libyan oil exports, which stands at around 350,000 barrels per day.

Report finds bribery for public services highest in MENA region
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Fraud and Corruption

According to a Transparency International report, around 48 percent of people paid a bribe to officials to access public services in Morocco in the past year. The result is 18 percentage points higher than the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) average. A large part of the bribes were paid to judicial officials. The report also found that more than 25 percent of respondents said that corruption had risen in the past year, though that figure remains the lowest in the region.

Government launches anti-corruption strategy
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Fraud and Corruption

The government launched a National Anti-Corruption strategy in Rabat. The strategy includes 10 programmes and 239 projects focusing on improving services for citizens. The strategy includes programmes of ethics, transparency and access to information for the ministry of civil affairs, and efforts to increase transparency and accountability for public contracts by the ministry of economy and finances. The move comes after the release of a Transparency International report which found that around 48 percent of Moroccans paid a bribe to access public services in the past year.

Saudi Arabia
Customs agents arrest drug smugglers at Riyadh airport
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Crime

Two passengers attempting to smuggle drugs from Saudi Arabia to the UK were arrested at Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport. Police seized more than 100 capsules of heroin from one of the suspects, while the second was caught with 477 g of heroin in his stomach. Authorities said it was rare for traffickers to attempt to smuggle narcotics out of the country.

Air strikes target rebel-held parts of Damascus
Date of incident: 04/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported air strikes against rebel-held territory east of Damascus. Air strikes and clashes between government forces broke out in Deir al-Asafir, Eastern Ghouta, hours after a local ceasefire expired at 0000 hrs local time on 4 May. Attempts to bring about a sustained reduction in the level of violence across parts of Syria in line with the 27 February cessation of hostilities agreement have largely failed.

Regime, rebel forces clash in Daraa city
Date of incident: 04/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

Pro-regime forces clashed with opposition rebels in the Daraa al-Balad area of Daraa city in southern Syria. Fighting between soldiers and pro-regime militiamen against Islamist rebels, including the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusrah Front, was reported in the Daraa countryside as well, though no casualties were confirmed. The clashes were the latest in an escalation of violence across Syria that has undermined peace efforts and attempts to sustain a partial truce.

Rebels launch attacks in Aleppo
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

Activist and state media reported rebel shelling in Aleppo killed 19 people and wounded 80 others. An attack by rebel forces against government positions in the Zahra district was reportedly repulsed, though rebel rocket and missile attacks struck the al-Dabit Hospital and other locations, resulting in a number of civilian causalities. Some rebel groups blamed pro-regime forces for initiating the violence, which came amid reported US and Russian efforts to restore a failed ceasefire in the area.

Troops deploy after prisoners revolt in Hama jail
Date of incident: 02/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence, Civil Unrest

According to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, government troops surrounded Hama prison and fired tear gas on inmates after they revolted and seized several guards. The insurgent Ajnad al-Sham group said it was ready to shell government militias in nearby towns in response to mistreatment of the inmates, who it said were demanding basic rights. Insurgents later shelled Maharda, one of the towns Ajnad al-Sham threatened to attack, although it was not immediately clear if the shelling was linked.

Government returns to peace talks
Date of incident: 04/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

Representatives of Yemen’s recognised government returned to UN-brokered peace talks after a three-day absence. The talks broke off on 1 May after the government protested the capture of a military base in Amran province by Houthi rebels. The two sides reportedly agreed to investigate the takeover of the base. Several earlier rounds of peace talks have failed to resolve the more than year-long conflict in Yemen, which has killed more than 6,400 people and displaced nearly 3 mn others.

Guards, gunmen clash outside Aden presidential palace
Date of incident: 03/05/2016Threat Category: Political Violence

Local media reported low-intensity clashes between gunmen and forces guarding the presidential palace in Aden’s Mashiq Crater area. The fighting reportedly involved armed men who had previously helped to secure the palace, which has been a flashpoint of unrest and violence in recent months. No casualties were reported as a result of the gun battle.


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