Kidnap & Ransom update – April 5, 2019
5-Apr-19

AMERICAS

1. (CANADA, 04/04/19) Hunt for Chinese student’s kidnappers continues

On 4 April, authorities issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for a suspect in the armed abduction of a Chinese student in Toronto. The suspect, 28-year-old Muzamil Addow of Toronto, is wanted on seven charges, including kidnapping, forcible confinement, assault with a weapon, assault and failing to comply with recognizance. York Regional Police said Addow is considered armed and dangerous. Addow is one of four suspects believed to be involved in the kidnapping of 22-year-old Wanzhen Lu. The first suspect to be identified, 37-year-old Abdullahi Adan of Toronto, turned himself in on 1 April, shortly after investigators issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest. A second suspect, 33-year-old Hashim Abdullahi from Brampton, was taken into custody on 2 April. The final suspect is yet to be identified. The victim was abducted from the underground garage of his condo in Toronto on 23 March. He was found on 26 March, after approaching a private house in Gravenhurst, Ontario province, more than 150 kilometers away from where he was taken. On 2 April, investigators revealed a ransom had been demanded for the victim’s release. However, they did not specify the amount. The circumstances surrounding the victim’s release remain unclear, but unconfirmed reports indicated he had managed to escape by jumping out of a moving vehicle. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3)

2. (MEXICO, 30/03/19) 11 policemen kidnapped at gunpoint in Necaxa released

11 police officers were kidnapped by suspected cartel gunmen whilst driving through the town of Necaxa, Puebla State, on 30 March. The attackers surrounded the two SUVs the policemen were travelling in, ordering the officers to get out and forcing them to kneel. The gunmen, who were travelling in two pickup trucks and a car, took the officers’ weapons and cell phones. The victims were then beaten and forced into the assailants’ vehicles. The officers were found near the Mexico City-Tuxpan Highway hours after the incident. The attackers reportedly kept the police vehicles as well as the other items they had stolen from the policemen. Reports indicated the abduction occurred shortly after the officers had finished responding to a call about an attempted theft of gasoline from an oil refinery. The attackers allegedly followed the policemen from the refinery to Necaxa before launching their assault. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

3. (UNITED KINGDOM, 26/03/19) Man kidnapped at gunpoint in a Liverpool café

On 26 March, a young man, who was being chased by two masked gunmen, burst into Blanches Café, located on Regent Road in Liverpool city’s Bootle area. The victim, who was shouting “save me,” barricaded the door, but his attackers managed to force their way in. Terrified customers started running towards the back of the café, as the gunmen forced the victim outside and into a waiting BMW. Armed police arrived at the scene shortly after the incident. Two days later, a police spokesman said a man in his 20s, who is believed to have been the intended victim of the crime, was identified and confirmed to be safe and well. Investigations are ongoing, with the perpetrators still at large. The motive behind the attack is yet to be ascertained. FULL ARTICLE (1)

MIDDLE EAST

4. (YEMEN, 04/04/19) MSF suspended operations in Aden after kidnapped patient was found dead

In a statement issued on 4 April, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) announced it is suspending the admission of patients at its Al Sadaqah Hospital in the port city of Aden, following the kidnapping and killing of a patient. According to MSF’s statement, in the morning on 2 April, a group of armed men threatened staff and security guards at the hospital’s emergency room before entering the building and kidnapping a patient who had been admitted a day earlier and was due to undergo surgery. The body of the patient was subsequently found on a street in Aden’s al-Mansoura district. Details surrounding the identity of the patient and the motive behind the attack were not disclosed. In its statement, MSF explained the abduction is the latest in a series of security incidents as well as threats, involving both staff and patients, since the beginning of this year, amid deteriorating security in the government-controlled port city. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

5. (CAMEROON, 30/03/19) Four crew abducted from container ship at Douala

Armed pirates boarded container ship Contship Oak in the vicinity of Douala outer anchorage, Cameroon, on 30 March. The Liberia-flagged ship, run by the Greek Contship Management, was anchored at the time of the attack. The assailants reportedly looted the ship and kidnapped four unidentified crew members. No further details surrounding the attack have been reported. The incident occurred just days after the US and 33 other countries concluded weeks-long anti-piracy training in the Gulf of Guinea, amid rising levels of piracy in the region. 2,500 personnel, 95 ships and 12 aircraft participated in the Obangame Express training exercise, which was held for the ninth consecutive year. FULL ARTICLE (1)

6. (CAMEROON, 30/03/19) Kidnapped former government official released unharmed

On 30 March, separatists in Northwest Cameroon released a former government official, nearly two weeks after his kidnapping. Emmanuel Ngafeson Bantar, former Secretary of State for Prison Administration, was the first advisor to President Paul Biya to be abducted in Northwest Cameroon. Reportedly, an unknown number of gunmen stormed Bantar’s home in Bamenda city on 19 March. They forced Bantar outside and into his personal vehicle, following which they fled. No one was harmed during the incident. Following his release, Bantar said his stay with the separatists convinced him that an end to the three-year-conflict is possible, if the government pursues sincere dialogue. The victim also claimed he had been treated well, a rare occurrence. At least 15 government officials and five traditional rulers have been abducted by separatists over the past two years. Nine were subsequently found dead, while three were freed following the payment of large ransoms. The fate of the other eight remains unknown. Bantar did not say whether a ransom had been paid for his release. However, unverified reports suggested a payment of an unspecified amount had been made. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

7. (UGANDA, 02/04/19) American tourist kidnapped for ransom in national park

An American tourist and her Ugandan driver were kidnapped by four gunmen in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park in the evening on 2 April. The park, a popular safari destination, is located approximately 380 kilometers west of the capital, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The two victims, Kimberley Sue Endecott and Ugandan driver Jean Paul, were reportedly taken in an ambush near the park’s Katoke Gate. An elderly tourist couple that was travelling with the victims reported the incident after the abductors left with their companions. The kidnappers, whose identity remains unknown, have reportedly called the lodge where the hostages were staying multiple times to demand a USD 500,000 ransom. Ugandan authorities said the ransom will not be paid. A search operation in the park is ongoing, as security forces believe the abductors and the hostages may still be within the parameters of the park. Authorities have also closed the border with the DRC near the kidnapping site. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

8. (NIGERIA, 02/04/19) Meteorological Agency spokesman kidnapped near Katari

A spokesperson for the Nigerian Meteorological Agency was kidnapped along the Abuja – Kaduna Highway near Katari on 2 April. Gunmen, travelling in two vehicles, reportedly intercepted the victim’s car, forcing him to stop and exit his vehicle, which was abandoned at the scene. There have been no reports of ransom demands and the motive behind the kidnapping is yet to be ascertained. The police have reportedly launched a rescue operation. The official, Muntari Ibrahim, was kidnapped a day after unknown gunmen targeted a vehicle belonging to a member of the judiciary along the same highway near Gidan Visa. A person was injured and left at the scene, whilst an unspecified number of others were kidnapped. The police said rescue efforts are underway, but did not disclose any further information. Also on 1 April, reports indicated gunmen abducted 30 civilians along the Abuja – Kaduna Highway, which is a high-risk area for kidnapping and other crimes. However, the police claimed the reports were false. FULL ARTICLE (1)

ASIA

9. (MALAYSIA, 04/04/19) Police probably behind abductions of activist, pastor – rights commission

The intelligence unit of the police was probably behind the abductions of a Shia Muslim activist and a Christian pastor in Malaysia, the country’s human rights commission claimed. Shia activist Amri Che Mat disappeared in November 2016 in the northern state of Perlis, while Pastor Raymond Koh was kidnapped by masked men in Kuala Lumpur in February 2017. Both victims, whose fate remains unknown, worked with the poor and underprivileged. The National Human Rights Commission launched an investigation into the men’s disappearances in October 2017. The Commission revealed its findings on 4 April, stating “direct and circumstantial evidence” indicated the police’s intelligence unit carried out the abductions. The abductions bore “uncanny similarities” and both men were targeted by religious authorities and police over allegations that “they were involved in matters against Islam in Malaysia,” the Commission said. The police are yet to comment on the Commission’s report, but have denied any involvement in the incidents in the past. FULL ARTICLE (1)

10. (PHILIPPINES, 03/04/19) Slain Tanauan mayor’s aide kidnapped in Laguna

Two men were abducted at gunpoint whilst having dinner in Seda Nuvali hotel’s restaurant in Santa Rosa city, Laguna Province, on 3 April. Eight gunmen, who posed as police officers, forced the victims out of the restaurant and into a van, following which they fled. The victims were identified as Allan Fajardo and his bodyguard, Ricky Atienza. Mr Fajardo, who works for the local authorities in Tanauan City, was a close aide of slain Tanauan City mayor Antonio Halili. Mayor Halili was shot dead as he sang the national anthem outside the town hall of Tanauan in July 2018. He was known for his hardline position on drugs, but was also accused of protecting narcotics traffickers. The police are yet to identify those behind the assassination. Fajardo, who was the head of Halili’s anti-crime task force, has also been accused of involvement in narcotics trafficking and other illicit activities. The police, who said search operations have been launched, announced they are looking into a number of possible motives for the kidnapping, including Fajardo’s alleged crime links. Authorities have also offered a PHP 1 million (over USD 19,000) reward for information leading to the rescue of Fajardo. FULL ARTICLE (1)

11. (INDIA, 04/04/19) Government official’s kidnapped son found dead

The body of a 14-year-old boy was found in Mufassil area of Siwan town, Bihar State, on 4 April, a day after he was kidnapped. The victim was reportedly taken near his house in Sifwan’s Bangali-Pakdi area, shortly after he left home to go to school. The victim’s mother is a local government official. His father, a Janata Dal (United) party leader, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in 2004. The kidnappers contacted the boy’s cousin, demanding an INR 5 million (USD 72,000) ransom for his release and threatening there would be “dire consequences” for the hostage if the matter is reported to the police. However, the victim’s cousin immediately alerted the authorities. The police launched an investigation and arrested four suspects in connection with the kidnapping during separate raids in Siwan. The detainees confessed to the crime, stating they had killed the victim after they found out the incident had been reported to the police. Reportedly, the assailants, who knew the victim, planned the kidnapping after incurring a large gambling debt. FULL ARTICLE (1)