Kidnap & Ransom update November 19, 2018
19-Nov-18

AMERICAS

1. (COLOMBIA, 13/11/18) Engineer released by ELN after eight months in captivity

The National Liberation Army (ELN) released José Leonardo Ataya, an engineer they had kidnapped in March in the department of Arauca, near the border with Venezuela. Ataya, manager of the Public Services Company of Arauca (Emserpa), was handed over by the guerrillas to a humanitarian commission on 13 November, according to a government official who did not disclose further details of the operation. Ataya’s father later declared he had paid a ransom for his son’s release, although he did not specify the amount. Ataya, who is also the son of the former governor of Arauca, was kidnapped by two armed men on 28 March 2018. According to investigations, as soon as he was abducted, Ataya was taken on boat across the Arauca River, into Venezuelan territory. On 5 April, the commander of the front Domingo Laín Sanz of the ELN, claimed the kidnappings of Leonardo Ataya and Rafael Andrés Riaño Ravelo, an engineer from the state oil company Ecopetrol, who remains in captivity. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

2. (SPAIN, 14/11/18) 22 Moldovans rescued in Albacete

The Spanish Civil Guard rescued 22 Moldovan immigrants who had been held by a gang of Romanian human traffickers in Albacete, Castilla region. Three Romanian suspects were arrested in the operation. According to investigations, the 22 immigrants had been lured in Moldova with promises of well-remunerated agricultural work in Spain. The Moldovans had to initially pay €100 for their transportation to Spain. Once there, they were lodged in very poor conditions and made work very long hours. They were additionally made pay high accommodation fees, resulting in the workers being always in debt. The rescue operation was launched after the Civil Guard received a phone call alerting on the workers’ situation. When the agents could locate the exact location after hearing the cries for help coming from inside one of the apartments in the raided building. More arrests are not ruled out. FULL ARTICLE

MIDDLE EAST

3. (SYRIA, 16/11/18) Austin Tice is alive, according to US officials

US officials announced on 13 November at a National Press Club event that missing journalist Austin Tice is believed to be alive. The officials did not provide comment on the identity of Tice’s captors or further information on his condition, however, they urged Russia, an ally of Syria, to push for the journalist’s release. Austin Tice was kidnapped in August 2012, while reporting near Damascus, Syria. A video released that September showed the journalist blindfolded and held captive. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

4. (NIGERIA, 11/11/18) ADC party pays ransom to release Ondo party members

The African Democratic Congress (ADC) party revealed that it paid a NGN 15 million (USD 41,150) ransom to kidnappers, to secure the release of the Ondo State party Chairman, the ADC senatorial candidate for Ondo, and three other party leaders. According to local sources, the kidnappers had initially demanded NGN 20 million (USD 54,870) for each of the victims. The five politicians were released on 11 November, four days after their kidnapping. The men were abducted by armed criminals on the Oba Akoko-Owo road, while returning to Akure after a political meeting on 7 November. FULL ARTICLE

5. (MADAGASCAR, 15/11/18) Another French businessman kidnapped in less than a week in Antananarivo

On 14 November, French national of Indian origin Nassir Sivjee was kidnapped by a group of heavily armed criminals as he was on his way back home in the area of Androhibe, Antananarivo. No more details of the incident have been provided. This is the second time that the businessman has been kidnapped. On the first time, 10 years ago, he was released after his family paid a ransom to kidnappers. His brother was also kidnapped in Antananarivo, in August 2015. FULL ARTICLE

6. (MADAGASCAR, 17/11/18) Kidnapped French businessman released

French businessman Riaz Hassim was released on 15 November, after six days in captivity. The release allegedly took place following the payment of a large ransom. The exact amount was not disclosed. Hassim, a plastics manufacturer of Indian origin (Karana), was kidnapped on 9 November near his residence in the area of Ambatobe, Antananarivo. No arrests have been made so far. FULL ARTICLE (1)

7. (SOUTH AFRICA, 17/11/18) Foreign national rescued from kidnappers

KwaZulu-Natal police are searching for three men, wanted for kidnapping a Ugandan national from his home in Veluram, north of Durban, on 15 November. According to initial reports, six men approached the victim and asked for directions to a local hospital. As the victim stepped out of his home, the men showed their guns and demanded valuables and cash from him. After stealing various items from his home, the man was bundled into his own car and forced to drive off. The criminals stopped at a nearby park, where they tied the victim to a tree before setting his car on fire. There, they forced the man to call his brother and ask for R25 000 (USD 1,800) in cash in exchange for his life. The brother called the local police, who managed to track down the group, arresting three suspects. The others are still on the run. FULL ARTICLE (1)

ASIA

8. (PAKISTAN, 15/11/18) Five abducted Iranian security officers freed in Pakistan

On 15 November, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), announced that five of the 12 Iranian forces who were kidnapped last month by Pakistan-based terrorists, had been freed “with concerted efforts of Pakistani law enforcement agencies and armed forces”. The IRGC chief said the released men are still in Pakistan and will soon return home, while efforts are underway to secure the release of the remaining captives. Jafari additionally said the kidnappers were seeking to exchange the abducted soldiers with several of their accomplices arrested in Iran, which was an unacceptable demand for the Islamic Republic. The 12 officers were kidnapped in mid-October by elements of the Jaish al-Adl terrorist group near the town of Mirjaveh, in the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, and then transferred to neighbouring Pakistan. FULL ARTICLE (1)

9. (PHILIPPINES, 18/11/18) Sayyaf frees kidnap victim

Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants released a woman they kidnapped along with her husband in Zamboanga del Norte three months ago. According to local sources, her family paid a P1 million (USD 19,000) ransom for her release. Helen Roda was freed on 16 November in a locality of Patikul, Sulu. The couple was kidnapped on 31 August in Sirawai town during an ASG raid in which a number of civilians were wounded and killed. Her husband, Rufo, was released on 17 October after a payment of P1.2 million (USD 22,800). According to reports, the amount paid had been agreed for the release of both hostages, but the militants only released the husband. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)