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Weekly Spotlight: 23rd July 2023

1. Belize Electricity Limited Confirms Cyber Attack from Russian-Linked Hackers

State utility provider Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) has confirmed on 21st July that it has taken steps to improve its cybersecurity measures following an attack from Russian hackers in April 2023. Ragnar Locker, a ransomware group linked to the Russia state, reportedly infiltrated the company’s IT systems to extract customer and employee data, before demanding ransom payments to prevent the data’s release online. BEL’s Chief Executive Officer, John Mencias, confirmed that 355 Gigabytes of confidential data was released onto the dark web during the attack, and that the company has since implemented improvements to its cybersecurity infrastructure.

2. Mass Shooting in St Vincent and the Grenadines Leaves Five Dead

On 21st July, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves issued a video statement condemning a mass shooting which took place in the capital city of Kingstown. The shooting, which killed five people, was reportedly carried out by criminals involved in drug related gang activity. In his statement, Prime Minister Gonsalves confirmed that the police, border control, and customs & immigration services had all been placed on high alert, and that a full investigation was underway to bring the perpetrators to justice. This incident brings the total number of homicides within the country to thirty-five this year.

3. Separatist-Linked Shooting Kills Ten in Northwestern Cameroon

The regional governor of Cameroon’s Northwest region, Adolphe Lele Lafrique, reported on 17th July that a mass shooting in the city of Bamenda had left ten dead and two injured. According to eyewitness accounts, men in military uniforms arrived at the city’s Nacho junction at 1930hrs (local time) on 16th July, before firing indiscriminately at civilians who they accused of failing to support local Anglophone separatists. Despite this clear link to the region’s ongoing Anglophone-Francophone conflict, the Ambazonian Defence Force (ADF), a militia formed with the purpose of securing independence for Cameroon’s Northern Anglophone regions, has officially denied responsibility for the attack. Governor Lafrique told Reuters that “a manhunt has been launched for the terrorists behind the massacre.”

4. Indian Navy Launches East Africa Maritime Outreach Campaign

Spearheaded by INS Trishul and INS Sunayna, the Indian Navy has conducted a maritime outreach campaign with several East African nations including Kenya, the Seychelles, and Mozambique. During the deployment, training exercises such as Operation Southern Readiness were conducted to develop the operational capacity of African navies to counter shared maritime security threats such as piracy and smuggling. The joint naval exercises were further reinforced by high-level visits from Indian delegations, with External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Vice Admiral Sanjay Mahindru visiting Zanzibar and Kenya, respectively.


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