CBRNe World News Briefs
On Tuesday, June 8th, 10 people were killed, and 16 others were injured in an attack on HALO Trust’s organization demining camp in Afghanistan. The attack occurred when gunmen stormed the organization’s office in the camp located in northern province of Baghlan. So far, Afghan minister of Interior Affairs spokesman, Tariq Arian, blamed the Taliban for the attack. However, the organization denies any involvement in the attack while other groups have not taken any responsibility either. On the following day, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) released a public statement expressing their outrage on the targeting of HALO’s humanitarian deminers while strongly condemning the attack. UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric added that “we further call for a full investigation to ensure that those responsible for this horrendous attack are held accountable and brough to justice.
According to Reuters, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi stated that talks between Iran and world powers on reviving the former 2015 Nuclear deal framework, will resume on Saturday, June 12th, in Vienna, Austria. The sixth round of talks was described by the European Union as “intense”, while Germany called for rapid progress across certain areas of issue. Nonetheless, top Iranian negotiator Araqchi suggested it was unlikely the talks would be concluded before Iran’s presidential elections on Friday 18th.
As the BBC reports, on June 16th aerial strikes on the Gaza strip have been renewed by the Israeli Air Force after several incendiary balloons were launched into Israel, setting fires in several locations across the border. According to the Israeli military, the targets included compounds belonging to Hamas, the militant group controlling the Gaza strip.
From June 7th to 18th, 2021, USAFRICOM and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) partnership deployed to Morocco as part of AFRICOM’s full-scale exercise AFRICAN LION 21 under the Counter-Weapons of Mass Destruction Security Cooperation Engagement Program (CSCEP). Exercise African Lion 2021 is USAFRICOM’s largest joint annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, with more than 7,000 personnel from 9 nations and NATO forces participating in the exercise. According to DTRA, as a part of the exercise, forces were given sustainment training on CBRN response tactics and engagement techniques and procedures vital to address emerging risks and threats.
Additionally, on Friday, June 20th, the US Navy subjected their new aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, to a shock trial to test whether it is ready to be deployed into warzones. According to the Deutsche Welle, the vessel was subjected to a detonation of approximately 20 metric tons of explosives, generating a 3.9 magnitude earthquake upon explosion.
On June 19th, military officials in Colombia said that a car bomb exploded inside a military base next to the town of Cucuta, injuring 36 people. According to Colombia’s Defense Minister, Diego Molano, the attack is a “vile terrorist attacks”, possibly committed either by the National Liberation Army, Colombia’s largest rebel group or FARCE dissidents. However, there are currently no evidence to support those claims while no group has taken responsibility for the attack.
As of early June, South America has also been defined as the world’s new Covid-19 hot spot. As the Deusche Welle reports, the new statistics released by Peru shows that the country’s Covid-19 related deaths number is double the original figure made public, while Brazil has now recorded well over 463,00 COVID-19 deaths, placing it in the second place in the world in COVID-19 related deaths. In Uruguay, the country that presented its as South America’s number one in terms of its pandemic management, infections rates have been rising towards the early days of June. However, as we are progressing towards the closing end of the month, the country has managed to decrease its chain of infections from 5000+ to around 1500 infections per day.
On June 7th, UN Nuclear Watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed that according to the agency’s ongoing investigations, indicators in North Korea suggest that the country is working to separate plutonium from its spent reactor fuel that could be used in the assembly of nuclear weapons. According to IAEA Director General, Rafael Grossi, the agency’s attention was drawn to a facility located outside of Pyongyang called Kangson, which is suspected to serve as one of North Korea’s potential uranium enrichment sites.
In Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Army Humanitarian Demining Unit (SLAHDU) of the Sri Lanka Engineers (SLE) are working towards completing the country’s demining efforts. As of June 16th, 2021, SALHDU and other international and local NGOs and INGOs had successfully cleared the large majority of the mines in Sri Lanka, with only 13.34 sq km left to be cleared before Sri Lanka can declare itself as a mine free country.
On June 16th, 2021, The Chinese Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) informed the IAEA that the Taishan nuclear power plant, located in the south of the country, suffered from damage to its fuel rods, leading to a build-up of gases which had to be released into the atmosphere. According to China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the problem is considered common and is no reason for environmental concern, as no radiation was released during the process. In addition, the CAEA assured that environmental radiation monitoring conducted at the site confirms that no radiation was leaked, and that radiation levels remain within the normal range of technical specifications.
According to Azerbaijan’s Mine Action Agency, about 800 unexploded ordnances were found and disseminated by the agency in the Nagorno Karabakh region, previously controlled by Armenia. The Mine Action Agency said approximately 596 anti-personnel and 54 anti-tank mines, in addition to 144 un-exploded ordnances were found in the area between June 7 and 12, 2021.
In the Ukraine, as the conflict with Russia in the Donbas region continues, a Ukrainian soldier was injured while stepping on a landmine on Saturday, June 5th. According to the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operations HQ, the soldier was evacuated to a military hospital in a moderate condition.
On June 16th in Rome, Italy, an IED was discovered in a car within a close proximity to the Stadio Olimpico stadium, hosting the 2020 Euro football match between Italy to Switzerland. According to the Italian authorities, the bomb was found on the car of an Italian municipal executive Mario Doria, as a part of an ongoing intimidation campaign against the public servant. The bomb was later defused by Italian counter-terrorism officers.
Finally, on June 10th, in London, police arrested a 20-year-old man for committing a bomb hoax near the media center that was set up to cover the G7 Summit in Cornwall, south-west England. According to Reuters, officers were called to a hotel in Falmouth hosting the media coverage center for the G7 meeting following a call describing a suspicious package. Only after evacuating approximately a 100 people from the compound and the surrounding area, a Royal Navy bomb disposal unit was called in to inspect the package and declare it unviable.
In the capital city of Somalia, at least 15 people were killed in a suicide bombing that targeted army recruits who were lined up outside a military camp. The attack, taking place on June 15th, was orchestrated by the Al Shabaab organization, an Islamist group operating in the area who later took responsibility for the bombing. According to Reuters, the attack was conducted as a result of Al Shabaab’s efforts to unseat and coerce the Somali government into implementing the organization’s strict Islamic Sharia law.
On Saturday, June 5th, one of the worst militant attacks in Burkina Faso in recent years claimed the lives of 132 civilians after armed attackers laid an overnight siege on a village in the northeast part of the country. According to Burkina Faso’s government officials, the attack took place in the village of Solhan in the Yagha province, bordering Niger. The government further decaled a 72-hour period of mourning, while no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In Ivory Coast, at least two soldiers and a police officer were killed when their vehicle hit an explosive device in the northeast part of the country, next to the border with Burkina Faso. General Lassina Doumbia, the Army Chief of Staff, claimed the attack “was an ambush using an IED which caused one of the vehicles to blow up”.
On Friday, June 4th, Australia’s Victoria state authorities said that they had identified the presence of the highly infectious Indian COVID-19 variant, known as the Delta variant, in the latest outbreak in Melbourne. The Delta variant, which has caused a devastating outbreak in India, has sent Melbourne into its second week of lockdown after it was already extended for another week until June 10th.
In terms of the country’s vaccine rollout, on June 22nd Australian Medical Association President Doctor Omar Khorshid warned that “there is no doubt” that there is a lack of supply of vaccines from overseas. As the BBC reports, currently only 3% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, while Australian doctors are reporting a surge in the number of people canceling their vaccine appointments as a result of a new wave of cautious approach with regards to the AstraZeneca vaccine.