Kidnap & Ransom update – January 17, 2019
17-Jan-19

AMERICAS

1. (TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, 15/01/19) Students kidnapped for ransom at sea

A secondary school student and his cousin were kidnapped at sea while fishing off Moruga district, on 12 January. According to relatives of the victims, they were contacted by a Spanish-speaking man, who demanded a ransom of USD 40,000. The man additionally threatened to kill the hostages if this was not paid within a week. The family later received a photograph of the hostages being pointed at with a gun. Moruga police are investigating the case. FULL ARTICLE

2. (BOLIVIA, 16/01/19) Virtual kidnapping in La Paz

On 15 January, security forces raided a hotel in the Bolivian capital, La Paz, after receiving reports of a possible virtual kidnapping. The victim, a foreign national, reported he had received a phone call by a man claiming to be a police commander, who alerted him on a security operation targeting members of an organized criminal group. Thinking he was cooperating with the security forces, he shared personal information with the caller, including his relatives’ phone numbers. The criminals then called the man’s parents and claimed they had kidnapped him. The extortion scheme was unveiled after the foreign national though he should alert other people in the premises on the security operation. A hotel employee refuted such operation was taking place and suggested the man called the authorities. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

3. (LIBYA, 16/01/19) Border crossing blocked over detention of Tunisian in Libya

A group of young people from the town of Dhehiba, Tunisia, on 16 January blocked the road leading to the border with Libya. The protests led to significant traffic disruption at the border crossing. The protesters demanded the release of a young Tunisian man who had been illegally detained a week ago in Nalut, Libya. The victim is being accused of participating in the operation that caused the death of the commander of a Nalut militia. However, no evidence has reportedly been presented linking him to the events. Dhehiba protestors additionally threatened to use kidnappings to force the Libyan authorities to release their compatriot. Negotiations are allegedly underway to free the young Tunisian. FULL ARTICLE

4. (BURKINA FASO, 17/01/19) Canadian kidnapped and killed, extremists suspected

A Canadian national by was kidnapped on 15 January by suspected extremists near the border with Niger. The victim was identified as Kirk Woodman, a geologist working for Canada-based mining company Progress Minerals. Woodman was abducted overnight during a raid on a mining site in Tiabongou, about 20 kilometres from Mansila, Yagha province. Woodman’s body was found shot on the morning of 17 January, 100 kilometres from the abduction site. The geologist’s abduction/killing comes soon after a Canadian tourist and her Italian companion were reported missing in the country. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3)

5. (CAMEROON, 16/01/19) Four Cameroonians freed after held by rebels in CAR
Cameroonian officials stated that rebels in Central African Republic (CAR) released four Cameroonian men nationals on 13 January. The four victims had been abducted in late December. They were reportedly released after their families paid over USD 40,000 to the militants. Cameroonian authorities believe that armed gangs from CAR have been working in collaboration with criminals from different parts of Cameroon to abduct and kill individuals. The released individuals are among the more than 300 locals abducted in Cameroon by CAR rebels in the past two years. Also among the victims is the chief of Akunure, whose captors have demanded a ransom of 100 million CFA (approximately USD 175,000). FULL ARTICLE

6. (MADAGASCAR, 16/01/19) Australian honorary consul kidnapped in Antsiranana

Abid Zafarhoussen, a wealthy businessman of Indian origin holding the title of Honorary Consul of Australia in Madagascar, was kidnapped in the port city of Antsiranana. The incident took place on the evening of 14 January, when a group of armed men hijacked Zafarhoussen’s car with its three occupants. Along their way, the kidnappers released Zafarhoussen’s daughter and their driver, taking only the diplomat. The car was later found abandoned on 15 January, in an isolated area of the district. Zafarhoussen’s family, fearing reprisals, have not formally reported the incident to the police. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

ASIA

7. (PHILIPPINES, 15/01/19) Indonesian hostage released by Abu Sayyaf

On 15 January, Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants in southern Philippines released an Indonesian sailor who was abducted in Malaysia in September 2018. Samsul Saguni was handed over to Indonesian officials on 16 January. While no details were provided regarding the conditions of Saguni’s release, the Indonesian foreign ministry refuted information that the Indonesian government had paid a ransom to ASG. Saguni was taken hostage in waters off Sabah, Malaysia, along with fellow national Usman Yunus, who allegedly managed to escape their captors on 7 December. FULL ARTICLE (1)