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Weekly Round-Up

1. Fuel tanker explosion in Freetown claims over 100 lives

A fuel tanker that exploded in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, has so far claimed the lives of 101 people, with over 100 more receiving treatment in hospital. The tanker was thought to have collided with a vehicle in Freetown’s eastern suburb of Wellington. Some deaths occurred as people began trying to collect the spilled fuel from the tanker before it became ignited, while others ‘were burned inside their vehicles’ in heavy traffic.

Sierra Leonean President Julius Bio responded from Glasgow where he is attending the COP 26 conference. “Deeply disturbed by the tragic fires and the horrendous loss of life around the Wellington PMB area. My profound sympathies with families who have lost loved ones and those who have been maimed as a result. My Government will do everything to support affected families.”

2. President of Kenya urges calm after Tigrey People’s Liberation Front advancements

The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, called for appeasement in Ethiopia on Wednesday as the TPLF took control of the cities of Dessie and Kombolcha, with the capital Addis Ababa now in sight. Addressing the media, President Kenyatta said the origins of the crisis ‘’can no longer be used as a justification for the continued suffering, killings and the extended open warfare that now engulfs the nation’’. Kenya, sharing a border with Ethiopia, may have to deal with significant numbers of refugees crossing into its territory should the conflict continue. Millions have already fled from northern Tigrey into neighbouring Sudan. The UN Security Council, of which Kenya was President through October, has also implored the respect of international humanitarian law and unhindered humanitarian access in the country.

3. India responds to Chinese military patrols along shared border.

India has increased its military presence in its northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which borders China’s Tibet Autonomous region. The move reflects a continued wariness in Sino-Indian relations since last year, when 24 soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand combat in Ladakh. India’s moves are seen in response to continued Chinese activity and patrolling along the shared border region, with little sign from Beijing that it intends to de-escalate the confrontation with India.

4. Papua New Guinea’s finance department hit by ransomware attack

Papua New Guinea’s finance department, specifically its Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS), that handles millions of dollars in foreign aid, was subject to a ransomware attack. In a statement released by finance minister John Pundari, the system has now been fully restored though, ‘because of the risk, we are playing it safe by not allowing full usage of the affected network’. He also assured the department had not paid any ransom to the attackers.

Ransomware has evolved in sophistication over the past decade, and increased in quality since the Covid-19 pandemic set root across the globe. How organisations should respond to ransomware, and how this evolution has taken place is the subject of a key feature by John Shier, Senior Security Advisor at Sophos, in the Commonwealth Security Group’s recent Emerging Technology Insight 2021.


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