Security Advisory: Tunisia and KuwaitJune 29, 2015 in Kuwait, Tunisia
Security Advisory: Tunisia (26 June)
At least twenty-seven people have been killed, amongst them several foreigners, in an attack that targeted a beach near two tourist hotels in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse on Friday. The attack occurred at a beach near the Hotel Imperial Marhaba. The Tunisian interior ministry has disclosed that the death toll is likely to increase in the coming hours as the situation on the ground is ongoing. Tourists near the site of the attack are now gathering in hotel reception and hiding in rooms as the situation develops. Officials have reported that one gunman has been shot dead while another is being pursued.
Sousse, a popular tourist destination, is located 140 kilometres (87 miles) south of the capital Tunis.
Friday’s attack comes on the same day as a man was decapitated and several others were injured at a factory in southeastern France; and a deadly attack targeted a Shi’ite mosque in Kuwait City, Kuwait. An Islamic State-affiliated group has claimed the attack in Kuwait. Friday’s attack in Tunisia also comes as the Islamic State (IS) militant group has called on its followers to increase attacks during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which began last week. No one yet however has claimed responsibility for this attack.
The situation at a hotel resort in Sousse, Tunisia is ongoing. One suspect has been killed by officers while another remains on the loose.
MS Risk advises any travellers near the site of the incident to follow the instructions of local security officials and to take shelter.
There is currently a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Attacks can be indiscriminate and can occur in places that are frequented by foreigners. Since March this year, Tunisia has been on high alert after militants killed twenty-two people, mainly foreign tourists, in an attack on a museum in the capital city, Tunis.
MS Risk currently advises against all travel to the following areas of the country:
- The Chaambi Mountain National Park area;
- The Tunisia-Algeria border crossing points at Ghardimaou, Hazoua and Sakiet Sidi Youssef;
- The militarized zone south of, but not including, the towns of El Borma and Dhehiba;
- Within 5 kilometres of the border area with Libya from north of Dhehiba up to, but not including, the Ras Ajdir border crossing.
MS Risk currently advises against all but essential travel to:
- Areas south of, and including, the towns of Nefta, Douz, Medenine, Zarzis (including the Tunisia-Libya border crossing point of Ras Ajdir)
- Within 30 kilometres of the border with Algeria south of, and including, the town of Jendouba (this areas includes the archaeological sites of Bulla Regia and Chemtou;);
- The governorate of Kasserine, including the town of Sbeitla.
There has been a previous suicide bomb attack in the resort town of Sousse. On 30 October 2013, a blast occurred at 09:45 local time, with no-one sustaining injuries, except for the bomber. The blast occurred close to the Ridah Palms hotel. The male attacker, who was wearing a belt of explosives, was killed. Witnesses reported that the bomber was seen and was chased away from the hotel, eventually blowing himself up on an empty beach.
Security Advisory: Kuwait (26 June 2015)
At least ten people were killed Friday after a suicide bomb exploded at a Shi’ite Muslim mosque in the Kuwaiti capital. Officials have reported that many people were injured in the attack, and unconfirmed reports have placed the death toll much higher.
The blast occurred during Friday prayers and targeted the Imam Sadiq Mosque in al-Sawaber, which is a busy area to the east of Kuwait City. According to Kuwait parliament member Khalil al-Salih, worshippers were kneeling in prayer when a suicide bomber walked into the mosque and blew himself up. Witnesses in the mosque have reported that the suicide bomber looked to be in his 20s. The governor of Kuwait City, Thabet al-Muhanna, has disclosed that the mosque was filled with some 2,000 people when there was a loud explosion. Footage that has since been posted online depicts men walking around in a smoke-filled room with rubble on the floor. Friday midday prayers are typically the most crowded of the week, with attendance significantly increasing during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which began last week.
The Kuwaiti emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, has arrived on scene and the Interior Ministry has told citizens to stay away from the area in order to allow the authorities to carry out an investigation.
Shortly after the explosion, an Islamic State- (IS) affiliated group, calling itself the Najd Province, claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack. In a statement that was posted on a Twitter account, which is known to belong to IS, the militant group stated that it targeted a “temple of the rejectionists” – a term it usually uses in order to refer to Shi’ite Muslims. While IS has previously carried out similar attacks in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Yemen, this is the first suicide bombing attack on a Shi’ite mosque to occur in the small Gulf state. In recent weeks, Najd Province has claimed responsibility for a pair of bombing attacks that targeted Shi’ite mosques in Saudi Arabia. The attack also comes after IS on Tuesday urged its followers to step up attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan against Christians, Shi’ites and Sunni Muslims fighting with a US-led coalition against the radical group.
While there is currently no nationwide advisory in effect for Kuwait, MS Risk advises all travellers to the Gulf country to exercise a high degree of caution, particularly in Kuwait city. This is due to a general threat of terrorist attacks. Further attacks cannot be ruled out and could be indiscriminate, occurring in places that are frequented by foreigners.
Any travellers currently in Kuwait, and specifically in Kuwait City, are advised to stay clear of the al-Sawaber area of the city. Authorities have closed off the area near the Imam Sadiq Mosque, however further attacks may occur in other areas of the city. Jihadists groups operating in the Middle East and in Africa have warned that they will increase their tempo of attacks during the Ramadan period, which began last week. Militants are likely to target mosques in the capital city, specifically during prayer times. MS Risk advises all travellers to maintain a high level of vigilance.