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Kidnap & Ransom Update – May 12, 2019


1. (ECUADOR, 10/05/19) Indian migrants kidnapped in Ecuador

The Anti-kidnapping and Extortion Unit of the Ecuadorian police captured six people, three Indians and three Ecuadorians, for their participation in the kidnapping of migrants. According to investigations, the gang would lure people in India through a Facebook post offering jobs in the US, with travel via Ecuador. Victims had to pay the group between USD 5,000 and 10,000 in advance for the services. Once in Ecuador, the migrants were picked up at the airport and taken to hotels in Guayaquil and Duran. Once there, they were dispossessed of their valuables and travel documents, and demanded to pay a second similar instalment. Victims would be held up to 30 days, and if they didn’t pay they were left on the streets without their belongings. According to the police, operations to dismantle the gang had initiated six months ago, following a report made by one victim. The authorities said having knowledge of about 13 people who were victims of the gang. FULL ARTICLE

2. (VENEZUELA, 10/05/19) Kidnapped Swedish journalist rescued by Venezuelan authorities

Members of the Special Action Forces (FAES) of the National Police carried out a security operation to rescue a Swedish journalist, who was being held captive by a criminal gang inside the hotel where she was staying. In the morning of 7 May, Annika Hernroth Rothstein, a journalist for the Daily Beast, was intercepted by men disguised as FAES officers while transiting a highway in the municipality of Libertador, in the greater Caracas. The kidnappers forced the woman to take them to her hotel room, where they threatened to kill her if she didn’t pay USD 20,000. Allegedly, an undercover police officer who was in the area at the time of the incident, reported the events to the FAES, who rescued the journalist after two hours. Two suspects were arrested as they tried to escape, while other two managed to evade the authorities. Following the incident, the journalist said in her twitter account that initial investigations had revealed that some of the culprits were people known to her. This is the second time the journalist has been kidnapped in 2019 while working in Venezuela. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

3. (TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, 10/05/19) Jamaican businessman kidnapped

Po­lice have ques­tioned and re­leased, for the second time, the busi­ness part­ner of a kid­napped Ja­maican busi­ness­man. Yohan Chin, whose fam­i­ly owns a chain of busi­ness­es in Ja­maica and Cana­da, is still miss­ing since his disappearance two week ago, and it is un­cer­tain if he is still alive. A USD 6 mil­lion ran­som has reportedly been de­mand­ed for his safe re­turn. The disappearance was reported by his business partner, who in his statement said that he had re­ceived a call from Chin on 14 April, in­di­cat­ing that armed men wear­ing ski masks had taken him from his home. He also told him to “or­gan­ise” some mon­ey, promis­ing to call back with fur­ther in­struc­tions. In his next call, on 16 April, Chin allegedly told him to sell his two luxury cars, as well as a piece of land. Since then, the victim has not established communication, leading his relatives to make a public appeal on a newspaper for his ab­duc­tors to con­tact them and com­plete ne­go­ti­a­tions for Chin’s release. Local media cited anonymous sources saying the case may be linked to a drug theft and that Chin is be­ing held cap­tive un­til the debt is paid in full. FULL ARTICLE


4. (NETHERLANDS, 10/05/19) German abducted in Dutch village

A German man was abducted and released on the same day in the village of Nijbroek, Gelderland Province, the police said in a statement on 9 May. The incident took place in the evening of 3 May, when the victim was inside his van in the company of a conational and a number of men arrived in two cars. As two of them stepped out of their vehicle holding arms, the German nationals tried to escape but were eventually intercepted. One of the men managed to escape, while the other was taken away. A witness called the police, who found the man who had managed to escape. The kidnapped man was released unhurt a few hours later, after being questioned by his captors. The police did not disclose the nature of the questions. An investigation is underway. FULL ARTICLE


5. (NIGERIA, 09/05/19) Nigerian police free 27 hostages, including five Chinese

On 9 May, Nigerian police rescued 27 hostages who had been abducted in recent weeks, including five Chinese citizens. Many of those rescued were freed in northwestern Zamfara state. In a statement, police said the five Chinese nationals, who had been kidnapped on 15 April in Bobi, Niger state, were rescued in a security operation on 5 May from a forest in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna state. Two kidnappers were shot dead in the rescue mission. According to Nigerian police chief Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, the release of the hostages was the result of Operation Puff Adder, launched to stem the current crime wave with “new counter-kidnapping operational strategies.” FULL ARTICLE (1)

6. (BURKINA FASO, 09/05/19) French troops free foreign hostages in Burkina Faso

The French government announced the rescue of four foreign hostages in a night raid in Burkina Faso. The operation was launched to rescue the two French tourists who had been kidnapped in neighbouring Benin on 1 May. However, upon their arrival, the French troops found other two foreign hostages, an American and a South Korean. At the time of writing, little is known about the two women, only that they were believed to had been in captivity for approximately 28 days. The South Korean government, while confirming the nationality of one of the hostages, said they had no reports of any citizen missing in the region. The raid, which took place in northern Burkina Faso, close to the Malian border, resulted in the death of two French Special Forces soldiers and that of four “terrorists”. Two other kidnappers managed to escape. French authorities declared that the decision to attempt rescue the victims was made as they had information that the kidnapers were on their way to Mali to handover the hostages to Islamic group Katibat Macina, which is part of the Al Qaeda-linked Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) conglomerate. While the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has said it is too early to make conclusions as to which group was responsible for the kidnapping of the French tourists, it has been speculated that given the link to Katibat Macina, Ansarul Islam may have been behind the incident. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3)

7. (LIBYA, 09/05/19) Concern over increase in abductions since start of Tripoli fighting

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), as well as a number of human rights groups, have said they are deeply concerned about the increase in the number of cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, abduction, kidnapping and disappearance in Libya. Particularly those targeting officials, activists and journalists. All of which are a clear sign of the deterioration of the rule of law in Libya. UNSMIL noted that the increase has taken place since the beginning of the current conflict in Tripoli. Among the missing victims are also two Libya Al-Ahrar journalists, who were abducted on 2 May. FULL ARTICLE (1)

8. (GULF OF GUINEA, 10/05/19) India issues advisory on GoG as Indians are targeted

On 8 May, India’s Directorate General of Shipping in a new advisory has asked shipping companies not to place Indian seafarers on coastal vessels trading solely within the ports of the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). According to the advisory, attacks in the GoG have become more violent, with a greater tendency to kidnapping crew, with Indian seafarers particularly targeted. This advisory follows the abduction of five Indian seafarers in Nigeria on 19 April, and who have not yet been released. FULL ARTICLE


9. (MALAYSIA, 10/05/19) Sabah sea curfew extended for another two weeks

Sabah’s dusk-to-dawn sea curfew, which ended on 10 May, has been extended for another two weeks until 26 May. According to Malaysian authorities, the extension was needed due to the continuous threat from cross-border criminals, including from kidnap-for-ransom groups. The 6pm-to-6am curfew, which covers areas up to three nautical miles off Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran, was first implemented in July 2014, following a spate of kidnappings and killings of foreign and local nationals in the area. FULL ARTICLE