Kidnap & Ransom update August 24, 2018
24-Aug-18

AMERICAS

1. (USA, 21/08/18) Missing Iowa college student found dead

On 21 August, authorities recovered the body of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, weeks after she was reported missing. 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who was detained on first-degree murder charges, accompanied the police to a field in Poweshiek County, Iowa, where the victim’s body was found covered with corn stalks. Tibbetts went missing on 18 July after going out for an evening run in her home town of Brooklyn, Poweshiek County. Her disappearance sparked an extensive search in the region involving the FBI, with rewards having grown to nearly USD 400,000. Surveillance footage showing the victim jogging in a rural area near Brooklyn and Rivera’s car reportedly helped authorities track the suspect down. Rivera, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, told the police that Tibbetts pulled out her mobile phone and said she was going to call the police when he approached her. Rivera explained that this caused him to get angry. He claimed he subsequently blacked out and woke up at an intersection in Poweshiek County. He then realized he had put Tibbetts in the trunk of his car. He took her out and saw blood on the side of her head following which he hid the body in a nearby cornfield. At present, it is unclear why Rivera killed Tibbetts. FULL ARTICLE (1)

AFRICA

2. (NIGERIA, 20/08/18) Gunmen killed Kaduna pastor, kidnapped his wife

Unknown gunmen stormed Nasara Baptist Church in Igabi local government area of Kaduna State, killing the church pastor and kidnapping his wife. At approximately 0100hrs on 20 August, the assailants broke into the church and proceeded to raid Reverend Hosea Akuchi’s apartment located inside the premises. Mr Akuchi was shot dead, while his wife was abducted. Kaduna Police confirmed the incident on 21 August, saying rescue efforts are underway. Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports indicated the kidnappers had contacted Mrs Akuchi’s family, demanding a NGN 5 million (nearly USD 14,000) ransom for her release. FULL ARTICLE (1)

3. (NIGERIA, 22/08/18) Igbo Traders Association member kidnapped in Gboko

Unidentified gunmen abducted an Igbo Traders Association member in Gboko, Benue State. The victim, Celestine Agbo, was taken whilst queuing to withdraw money from an ATM located along J.S.Tarka Way at approximately 1100hrs on 22 August. According to an eyewitness, the assailants fired multiple shots in the air before grabbing the victim and forcing him into their Toyota Corolla vehicle. At present, it is unknown why Mr Agbo was taken. FULL ARTICLE

4. (CAMEROON, 21/08/18) Judge kidnapped near Bamenda

The President of Menchum High Court and Wum High Court Presiding Magistrate, Mukete Tahle Itoe, was kidnapped along the Bamenda-Wum Road near the town of Bamenda in northwestern Cameroon on 21 August. Mr Itoe was travelling home on public transport at the time of his abduction. According to eyewitnesses, armed men had set up a checkpoint at the road’s 37th mile mark. They stopped the bus Mr Itoe was travelling on and forced him out. Cameroonian authorities have not issued an official comment on the incident. It is currently unclear why Mr Itoe was abducted, but kidnappings targeting government officials have increased significantly since the escalation of the crisis in Cameroon’s northwest and southwest regions. FULL ARTICLE

ASIA

5. (MALAYSIA, 21/08/18) Kidnap gang busted, victim rescued

On 21 August, Malaysian police busted a kidnap gang and rescued a hostage in Johor State. At approximately 1130hrs, the police raided a hotel located along Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Johor Bahru City, detaining four suspects. A second raid was conducted on a property in Yonh Peng, Batu Pahat District, an hour later. Six suspects were arrested. Acting on information obtained during the interrogation of the detainees, the police conducted a third raid on a property in Pagoh town at approximately 2330hrs. Two suspects were arrested and a hostage rescued. Burnt remains were also recovered near Kampung Panchor, Pagoh. It is believed the remains belong to 18 year-old B. Satishwaran who was kidnapped on 18 July in Skodai. Meanwhile, another member of the gang reportedly managed to flee to Singapore. The police alerted Singaporean authorities, with the suspect having been arrested shortly thereafter. Johor police reportedly uncovered the gang after linking the abduction of Satishwaran to that of another 18-year-old boy, who was taken in Paloh on 19 August. A MYR 120,000 (over USD 29,000) ransom had been demanded for the release of each victim. The victims reportedly knew their kidnappers. According to the police, the boys were targeted because the abductors believed their families could afford and would be willing to pay a ransom. FULL ARTICLE (1)

6. (SINGAPORE, 20/08/18) Police issued text message kidnapping scam warning

The Singapore Police Force issued a text message kidnapping scam warning on 20 August. Targets are reportedly receiving text messages claiming the kidnap of a family member and instructing them to transfer USD 5,000 to a given bank account if they want to ensure the safe release of the hostage. According to the warning, numerous reports regarding the scam have been received thus far. Local newspaper The Straits Times stated 100 reports on the scam were submitted to the police on 20 August alone. The Singapore Police Force issued a similar warning earlier in April this year, amid a surge in reports on text message abduction scams. FULL ARTICLE (1)

7. (AFGHANISTAN, 20/08/18) Taleban released 31 hostages in Kandahar

On 20 August, 31 employees of an Afghan construction company were released by the Taleban after nearly two months in captivity. The militants said the hostages were released in Shorabak district of the southern province of Kandahar following negotiations with local tribal elders. There were no reports on ransom payments. The release was reportedly part of a Taleban pledge to free hundreds of prisoners ahead of the Eid al-Adha celebrations. Officials said the hostages had been kept in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and were in good health. The victims were abducted on 21 August along with another 13 staff members during an attack on Sadaqat Construction Company’s compound located along the border with Pakistan in Kandahar’s Spin Boldak district. The remaining 13 captives were released earlier on 30 July. Sadaqat officials said a USD 2 million loss was incurred as a result of the Taleban attack on the company’s compound. FULL ARTICLE