AMERICAS Colombia (Security threat level – 4): On 15 January...
1. (COLOMBIA, 18/04/18) FARC dissidents kidnap two more Ecuadorians
César Navas, Minister of the Interior of Ecuador, confirmed on 17 April the kidnapping of an Ecuadorian couple in the border area with Colombia. The minister identified ‘El Guacho’ and his group as the perpetrators of the kidnapping. This group of FARC dissidents was also responsible for the kidnap/killing of three employees of newspaper El Comercio. Navas, together with Defense Minister Patricio Zambrano, shared a video of the two kidnapped people, and said this was the first time that Guacho had communicated directly with the Ecuadorian authorities. Navas said the group claimed the kidnapping and sent the proof of life via WhatsApp on 16 April. In the recording, the couple are seen together with two armed men dressed in camouflage behind them. The hostages indicate that the kidnappers are demanding the release of detainees in exchange for their lives. The man pleads with the Ecuadorian president not to let “the same happen as with journalists.” The victims have been identified as Oscar Efrén Villacís, 24, and his partner, Katty Vannesa Velasco Pinargote, 20. The young Ecuadorian couple reportedly traveled on 11 April to the border area of Esmeraldas for the sale of a motorcycle. Although it was initially said the couple were kidnapped in the township of San Lorenzo, Ecuador, the Ecuadorian police has affirmed they were kidnapped inside Colombian territory. In the context of these incidents, on 18 April, Ecuador said it is suspending its role as a mediator in peace talks between the Colombian government and the ELN. The Ecuadorian government said the decision was taken as a result of the “difficult situation” on its northern border with Colombia. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)
2. (ARGENTINA, 18/04/18) Two victims released after ransom payment in greater Buenos Aires
The two kidnappings took place in two separate attacks in the western zone of metropolitan Buenos Aires, in the early hours of the evening. In the first incident, a merchant was kidnapped in front of his house in Morón. The man was released some hours later, when his family paid a ransom of 80,000 pesos (USD 4,000). In the second one, a woman was abducted by a criminal gang on her way to collect her children from school in Moreno county. Her husband, a businessman in the construction sector, had to pay 180,000 pesos (USD 9,000) for her release. The police is currently investigating if both kidnappings were crimes of opportunity or if there was prior planning behind them. FULL ARTICLE
3. (SOUTH AFRICA, 17/04/18) Polish businesswoman released after large ransom payment
A Polish businesswoman, who was abducted outside her hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, was freed after her family reportedly paid a € 2 million ransom to her kidnappers. Barbara Wadolowska was found by police near OR Tambo International airport on 13 April. Wadolowska‚ whose kidnapping reportedly sparked a secret international police operation‚ was held captive for nearly a week. FULL ARTICLE (1)
4. (SOUTH AFRICA, 17/04/18) Pakistani nationals tried for kidnapping of countryman
Four Pakistani nationals appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on 16 April in relation to the kidnapping of a wealthy Pakistani businessman. The accused‚ who are allegedly senior members of a Pakistani mafia group operating in Johannesburg‚ were arrested on 7 April in a sting operation in connection with the kidnapping of the Ijaz-ur Rahman Ilyas Mohamed. The businessman was kidnapped last month, shortly after he arrived in South Africa from Pakistan. No more case details were disclosed. FULL ARTICLE (1)
5. (BURKINA FASO, 18/04/18) IS militants kidnap a teacher in northern Burkina Faso
The Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS), a local offshoot of the Islamic State (IS), claimed the kidnapping of a teacher in Burkina Faso, promising to fight against French education and threatening to attack “all those who teach in French”. The kidnapping took place on 12 April, in Nassoubou, Soum province, where terrorist incursions have become recurrent. The group also claimed the 15 April assassination of Hamid Koundaba, mayor of Koutougou, who they accused of collaborating with the government and the Burkinabe army in the hunt for the Islamist group.
FULL ARTICLE (1)
6. (EGYPT, 18/04/18) Kidnapped child rescued in Cairo
Cairo police recovered a kidnapped child and arrested five suspects. Al-Shorouq police station received a report from a shop owner, who informed of the kidnapping of his 3 year-old son in front of his shop. Later, the businessman received a phone call by the kidnappers, who demanded 3 million Egyptian pounds (USD 170,000) for the child’s release. The police advised the family to negotiate with the kidnappers, and an agreement was reached between the family and the criminals for the payment of 1 million Egyptian pounds (USD 56,400). The criminals were arrested while trying to collect the ransom. FULL ARTICLE