CBRNe World News Briefs


On August 9th, the Turkish police managed to kill a terrorist target in Ziyapaşa Street in Mardin’s Nusaybin district (southeast Turkey). The suspect, a Syrian national, was about to attempt detonating a bomb-laden vest. After being shot, bomb disposal units detonated the two-kilogram vest successfully according to Ihlas News Agency. On August 15th, a fuel tank explosion left 20 people killed and 80 injured in northern Lebanon. According to state media reports, the incident took place after the fuel tank was confiscated by the army. This incident is occurring at a time when Lebanon is experiencing severe fuel shortage and the army proceeds with seizing fuel across the country as contributors trying to stockpile. On August 16th, Reuters reported that according to IAEA, Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment to near weapons-grade. The country increased fissile purity to 60% from 20% back in April while weapons-grade is at 90% purity. This is the latest move of the country, breaching the suspended 2015 nuclear deal when the purity restrictions were containing uranium refinement at 3,67%. The official response of Iran was that its nuclear program remains peaceful and that IAEA has already been informed regarding its enrichment activities.


On August 4th, at least two soldiers were reported dead after their convoy was hit by an IED in Northwest Cameroon. According to the Senior Divisional Officer responsible for the area, the convoy was part of an anti-terrorist operation taking place. The number of deaths continues to pile up because of the current Anglophone crisis, where security forces are opposing separatists. On August 10th, a case of the Marburg virus has been detected in Guinea. It has been the first time that it has been detected in West Africa according to Institute Pasteur in Senegal. The Marburg virus causes a highly infectious disease that can cause hemorrhagic fever and can be transmitted through body fluids and surfaces. On August 14th, an Ebola case was recorded in Ivory Coast at an 18-year-old woman according to Institute Pasteur that confirmed it after testing the sample. An emergency plan has been activated in the country. According to the World Health Organization, this is the first recorded Ebola case since 1994 in the country. On August 15th, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria announced the partnership between India and Nigeria in developing a new IED detector in the country. Regarding the bilateral relationship of the two countries, the Commissioner reaffirmed India’s commitment in continuous support of the Nigerian defense agencies, especially regarding capacity building and counter-terrorism initiatives.


On August 5th, a report was published by Luke Taylor, at BMJ, regarding the success of Cuba in dealing with coronavirus, including the development of its vaccine Abdala. Even though the rest of its neighbors were hoping to buy as many doses as possible by foreign pharmaceuticals, Cuba successfully developed its own vaccine with an efficacy rate of 92% after three doses. During the pandemic, the island has also developed aggressive testing, tracing, and isolating program (Tetris), cutting successfully transmitting chains in a country of a rapidly aging population. On August 6th, Michigan’s Department of Environment issued its first public statement regarding a recent incident where the wrong treatment chemical was provided to the public water supply. The above incident posed a severe public health risk since a toxic chemical (sulfuric acid) was added to the water supply instead of the correct one (fluorosilicic acid). What led to the mistake is currently not exactly clear, but it was mainly caused due to mislabeled barrels carrying the chemicals. On August 10th, a city worker was hospitalized after exposure to hazardous material in Fresno, California. The accident happened when an individual left a bottle of pool acid in trash piles. The neighborhood was closed off and hazmat teams proceeded at decontamination of the area, neutralizing the acid. The city worker is expected to recover.


On August 7th, a soldier was reported dead and other six were wounded when an IED went out in Maguindanao, Philippines. As reported in the newspaper The Philippine Star, the victims were underway to procure medicine to specific villages and officials are suspecting that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters are behind the attack. In Pakistan, on August 8th, two police personnel were killed with 21 others injured during a blast in Balochistan’s capital Quetta. The explosive material was planted in a motorcycle and the target was a police van near a luxurious hotel in the city. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a banned terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for the blast, as reported in the Express Tribune, a Pakistani newspaper. On August 15th, a suspected country-made bomb has been found in the area of West Bengal, New Jalpaiguri railway station, India. The bomb disposal squad was called in to diffuse it. Representatives from the Railway Police Force declared that the incident is under investigation regarding if the bomb is a country-made one or not, aiming to create panic in the area. On August 16th, Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, came under Taliban control after the US withdrawal. After two decades of war, the Taliban are controlling the country while most countries are evacuating their citizens and shutting down their embassies. The fate of many locals that have worked with foreign governments is still unclear besides the promises of the new ruling party. British and NATO forces are not expected to return to the country according to the UK defense secretary ruling out this option.


On August 14th, Russia reported a new record of covid cases which are rapidly increasing since their peak in July. Deaths are also advancing because of the Delta variant and slow vaccination rates. The health department of Moscow also reported the highest number of covid deaths in a month, since the start of the pandemic. The mortality rate in July, for instance, was 60% higher than the same month of 2020. On August 16th, Germany’s advisory committee updated the guidance regarding Covid-19 vaccinations, recommending that all individuals aged between 12 and 17 should be given the shot. This decision has been made after reviewing further data and increased risks posed by the Delta variant. Mathematical modeling also showed that there is significant high risk of infection to this age group, leading to this decision. According to a BBC report, on August 18th, scientists in the UK that were working on the AstraZeneca vaccine, have proceeded to a new plague vaccine trial. The phase one trial will be taken place with 40 healthy volunteers aged 18-55, using the same technology as the one used in the coronavirus vaccine. Although for most of the world plague is not a threat anymore, outbreaks still take place in rural areas of Africa, Asia, and America.


On August 14th, New South Wales’ leader announced that Australia is in the worst situation in terms of cases since the start of the pandemic, as BBC reports. Restrictions are getting tighter as days come by after a nine-week lockdown that was about to end on August 28th. Defense personnel will also enforce the lockdown measures and additionally, tougher border rules apply since August 11th. The vaccination rate remains low at 19% percent according to a BBC report of August 6th. As reported by The Guardian, August 18th, the New Zealand covid cluster is growing to 10 people, marking the first transmissions of the Delta variant in the country. After a first case was recorded the day before, the Prime Minister of the country decided to impose a national lockdown with the highest level of restrictions, something that had not taken place for a year now. New Zealand has also the lowest vaccination rate (22,9% completely vaccinated) among OECD countries.