Americas: Gulf Clan ends deadly armed strike, risk of violence to remain high in Colombia
Key Risks: violent crime; armed attacks; arson
In Colombia, the risk of further violence will remain high despite the apparent end of a four-day ‘armed strike’ by the Gulf Clan – the country’s largest organised criminal group. Authorities reported that at least six people were killed, dozens injured, over 90 arrested and 180 vehicles were torched across 11 departments since 5 May, when the Gulf Clan launched the ‘armed strike’ to protest the government’s decision to extradite its leader – Dairo Antonio ‘Otoniel’ Usuga David – to the US to face drug trafficking and other criminal charges. Most of the violence, including the killing of a police officer and two soldiers, was concentrated in Choco, Antioquia, Cordoba, Sucre and Bolivar departments. Some reports suggested that the strike was set to last until 10 May. Further attacks and violent clashes will remain a high risk across the country over the coming days.
Asia Pacific: John Lee selected as Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive
Key Risks: political instability
In Hong Kong, SAR, the 1,500-member Election Committee almost unanimously selected John Lee as the city’s Chief Executive after securing 1,416 of the 1,428 valid votes. Lee was the sole candidate supported by the Chinese government under the newly revamped electoral system that ensured only ‘patriots’ loyal to Beijing can hold office, with the legislature also reorganised to all but eliminate opposition voices. The vast majority of the political opposition has been dismantled after Beijing imposed the National Security Law (NSL) in wake of the 2019 pro-democracy protests. Lee is expected to pass legislation that would prohibit acts of treason, secession, sedition and subversion. The new CE could also face challenges to shore up the city’s battered business sector following the exodus of patriots triggered by the imposition of NSL and stringent COVID-19 restrictions.
Eurasia: Russian forces in Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast capture Popasna, advance on Severodonetsk
Key risks: war on land
In Ukraine, officials confirmed that Russian forces secured control over the town of Popasna which has been one of the centres of fighting for the last several weeks. Russian forces also attempted to advance on Luhansk’s biggest Ukraine-held city of Severodonetsk, with heavy fighting reported in Bilohorivka Vojevodivka and Lysychansk, west, north and south-west of Severodonetsk respectively. This suggests that Russian troops might first attempt to encircle the city. Russian forces also recently intensified artillery, missile and air strikes against the city and other Ukraine-held towns in the oblast. On 8 April a Russian air strike hit a school used as a shelter, killing at least 60 people. Russian forces are likely to continue efforts to capture Severodonetsk as well as air, missile and artillery attacks on towns in Luhansk Oblast.
Europe: Sinn Fein becomes the largest party in Northern Ireland Assembly
Key Risks: political stability; policy uncertainty; trade
In Northern Ireland, at the 6 May Assembly elections Sinn Fein secured 27 seats to become the largest party at Stormont, the first time ever for a nationalist party. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) came second with 25 seats. As Sinn Fein secured the same number of seats as in 2017, it was the DUP’s loss of three seats compared with 2017 which ensured its historic victory. The centrist, cross-community Alliance party won 17 seats, more than doubling its previous number in 2017. The result means Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill could become the first minister under the power-sharing system of government, although this would require the consent of the DUP, which has said it would not join the executive unless the Northern Ireland protocol is scrapped. A period of short-term political impasse is highly likely.
MENA: 11 soldiers killed by IS militants in the Sinai region, Egypt
Sectors: all; tourism
Key Risks: terrorism
In Egypt, on 7 May 11 soldiers were killed and another five were injured after militants attacked a military checkpoint in the north-eastern al-Qantarah city, east of Suez Canal in the Sinai peninsula. The attack was claimed by Islamic State (IS) group on its Amaq propaganda site. The group claimed that they killed the soldiers, seized their weapons and burned down their position in Sinai. The military said that IS militants attacked soldiers at a checkpoint guarding the water pumping facility and then fled. The military has reportedly pursued the militants into an isolated area in northern Sinai. This marked one of the deadliest attacks in several years. The insurgency in Sinai started nearly a decade ago after former president Husni Mubarak was ousted. The attack will likely shake confidence in the country’s tourism sector whilst further attacks are likely.
Sub-Saharan Africa: 60 inmates escape from Nouna prison; violence continues in Burkina Faso
Key Risks: political violence; terrorism
On 8 May one soldier was killed when heavily armed men launched an overnight attack on a prison, which led to the escape of about 60 inmates, in Nouna town in north-west Kossi province, Burkina Faso. During the raid the prison’s offices were ransacked and trucks and bikes belonging to the facility were destroyed. Separately, two soldiers and four civilian volunteers were killed during an attack on Solle town in northern Lourom province and five soldiers were killed in an attack in Ouanobiam in north-central Sanmatenga province on 5 May. The military stated about 20 gunmen were also killed in the attacks. Attacks conducted by al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS)-affiliated groups have continued across the country since the coup d’etat in January and despite the military’s promises to reform the security sector and address rampant insecurity.