ASIA

Afghanistan

20 December The Chairman of Ghazni Province provincial council said that Taliban militants had kidnapped five civilians. The group’s car was stopped by gunmen while travelling from Malistan district to Ghazni. The kidnappers later released a child and his mother but kept the other three people. Kidnapping for ransom by bandits, local militiamen and Taliban militants regularly occurs in the country

India

7 December Jalandhar rural police rescued Dulal Gosh (39), a potato trader, and arrested three men in connection with his kidnapping. A fourth man escaped. The victim was kidnapped when he came to Jalandhar on 4 December to buy potato seed. Four people in a car kidnapped him from outside the TL Cold Store at Kartarpur. They took him to a house near the JS Cold Store at Raipur Ballan village. The kidnappers sent a video on WhatsApp to the victim’s wife demanding Rs.4 lakh (USD6,500) for his release and showing him being beaten up. A police informer recognised one of the kidnappers who could be seen on the video. The police raided the house where the victim was being held.

11 December The Anti-Extortion Cell of the police Crime Branch arrested Saqib Jumma Khan (25) for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of a businessman who imports and exports copper. The victim was enticed to fly to Rajasthan on 24 November after receiving a telephone call in October stating that a Mathura based company had around 30-40 tonnes of copper for sale at a throwaway price of Rs.3.5 (USD0.06) per kilogram. He was shown photographs of the goods through WhatsApp. On arriving at Delhi airport, he was met at the airport by a driver who drove him towards Mathura. Along the road, his car was stopped by six people who told him they were kidnapping him and wanted Rs.10 lakh (USD16,000) for his release. He arranged a bank transfer through his brother to an account provided by the kidnappers. He was released and on 28 November and reported his kidnapping to the police.

12 December The four year old son of Santosh Gaur (28), a farmer and property dealer, was kidnapped from outside his house in the Malikhedi area of Bhopal. The kidnappers contacted his family and demanded Rs.2 crore (USD321,000). The calls to the family helped the police to trace the location where the victim was being held. When the kidnappers realised the police were pursuing them, they left the victim in front of a hotel in Basti district of Uttar Pradesh where the police found him on 15 December. A nephew of Santosh Gaur is suspected to be responsible for the kidnapping as the family boycotted him after his inter-caste marriage a few years earlier. The police are still looking for the suspect.

13 December Ajay Shyamrao Raut (45) was kidnapped at around noon by a gang of ten men travelling by car and motorcycle as he approached his residence in Nagpur. The kidnappers forced their victim into their vehicle and drove him around blindfolded for 2-3 hours, beating him all the time. They made a ransom demand of Rs.5 crore (USD802,600) to the victim against a threat to kill his wife, son and other family members. They forced him to call friends and relatives in order to arrange the ransom. He managed to arrange Rs.1.75 crore (USD280,900) that his friends handed over to the kidnappers. The kidnappers then abandoned the victim in a secluded place and fled. It has been reported that Rs, 75 lakh (USD120,400) was provided by a jeweller and the remaining Rs.1 crore (USD160,500), most surprisingly, by a gangster, Raju Bhadre, who is in jail in connection with a murder case.

26 December According to police statistics, the number of kidnappings in Bengaluru has increased 11% to 772 for 2015, the highest for six years, compared to 2014. There has been a steeper increase of 35% over the years. Two weeks previously, a 25 year old man kidnapped his younger brother and demanded a ransom of Rs.5 crore (USD802,500) from his father as a result of falling into debt. In another case, five tailors turned to kidnapping to make up for losses in their business. They kidnapped a 30 year old software engineer at gun point and demanded Rs. 20 lakh (USD32,100) from his wife. The police eventually found the victim semi-conscious in the boot of a car. In many kidnapping cases the victims are minors.

Pakistan

11 December Improvements in security in Karachi have resulted in impressive reductions in crime figures. To date in 2015, there have been 18 reported kidnappings compared to 98 in 2014. Extortion incidents have also reduced from 640 in 2014 to 216 to date in 2015. The confidence of businessmen has returned and roadside restaurants and stores, even in riskier areas, now stay open late into the night.

18 December The newly appointed chief of the Karachi Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), Zubair Habib, said that reported kidnap for ransom cases in the city had reduced from its height of 174 in 2013 to 110 in 2014 and 21 to date this year.

FAR EAST

Australia

3 December Queensland police arraigned four men aged in their 20s, alleged to have kidnapped and tortured Harrison Donovan-Hansford (21), son of motor racing champion Gregg Hansford. The victim had was kidnapped by the men on 29 November and taken to an apartment at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, where he was repeatedly punched in the head, face and ribs before being taken to the lounge where he was forced to smoke methamphetamine and robbed. The men told him he would have to pay thousands of dollars for “talking s***” about them. Duct tape was put round his hands and ankles before he was taped to a bed. The kidnappers later took him to a bank and forced to withdraw AUD31,000 (USD22,500). The victim was later released and treated in hospital for a possible fractured cheekbone, nose and ribs as well as bruises. The presiding Magistrate said there was no doubt the incident was drug related and refused to grant bail.

Cambodia

17 December Military police in Phnom Penh arrested a seventh suspect in the kidnapping of three Chinese men who had been freed on 15 December after being held hostage for two months in an effort to make them repay loans with the assistance of relatives in China. The three victims had been kidnapped in Sihanoukville and were transferred to Phnom Penh at some stage during their two months of captivity. The original six suspects, including one woman, were all Chinese. The leader of the kidnappers fled back to China after the six were arrested. Police said that the victims had thrown a note out of a window that was picked up by a passer-by who contacted their Cambodian girlfriends who, in turn, informed the police.

Japan

3 December Police in Yokohama arrested three Sri Lankan and four Japanese men, including Tomokazu Iwasaki (36) associated with the crime syndicate Yanagechi-gumi, on suspicion of kidnapping a 30 year old Sri Lankan man. The victim was allegedly kidnapped from his apartment in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, by the seven men on 14 October and taken to a building in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture. The kidnappers are alleged to have threatened to kill the victim if his 35 year old brother did not pay a debt of 3.18 million yen (USD26,250) within two weeks. The police found the victim in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, the following day.

Malaysia

3 December Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said that the police wanted to interview Kadafi Muktadil and a second suspect about the kidnapping and beheading of Bernard Then Ted Fen in Jolo, Southern Philippines, on 17 November. Kadafi Muktadil, aka Kadaffy Kamsa and Saddam Jailani, was arrested by the Philippines security forces at a Jolo hospital after being injured in a motorcycle accident on 28 November. The Philippines Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said in a statement: “In the spirit of partnership, the Philippines side is open to granting access to the Malaysian police to these two suspects once a formal request has been made and the parameters for the access are finalised”. Malaysia and the Philippines do not have an extradition treaty but they could work together under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. Bernard Then Ted Fen was kidnapped along with the restaurant manager, Thien Nuk Fun, from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan on 14 May. Thien was released unharmed on 8 November.

15 December A military official said that troops had found a headless body in Parang, Sulu, which they believed to be the body of Malaysian kidnapping victim, Bernard Then Ted Fen. He added that the body would be subjected to DNA testing to determine if it matches the head recovered on 17 November.

26 December The dawn to dusk curfew (7:00pm to 5:00am) along Sabah’s east coast was extended until 12 January amid continuing threats from kidnap for ransom groups linked to the Philippines based Abu Sayyaf. The curfew was first introduced in July 2014 and was about to start its 34th phase. The curfew covers the districts of Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran.

29 December The outgoing Sabah State Police Commissioner, Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman, said that Sabah’s east coast would definitely be hit by more kidnappings if the dawn to dusk curfew is lifted. He added that there was a big possibility that kidnap for ransom groups were still in Tawi-Tawi waiting for the opportunity to strike. He will hand over his post to Eastern Sabah Security Command Chief (Esscom) Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun on 4 January 2016.

Philippines

2 December Police agents rescued a businesswoman, only named as “Rachelle”, and arrested four suspected kidnappers in Barangay San Rafael, Bulacan. The victim was kidnapped on 1 December at around 10:00pm as she entered her car parked in front of Britannia Health Clinic in Barangay Cuayan, Angeles City, Pampanga. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s family the following day and demanded P8 million (USD178,800) for her release. The family informed the Philippines National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group who, working on information given by concerned citizens, rescued the victim and arrested the suspects.

9 December General Luna Mayor, Jaime P. Rousillion, said that there are rumours circulating that Abu Sayyaf Group was planning to kidnap tourists and the rumours have made some resort owners and tourists leave Siargao Island. He added that some troops had been deployed in the town and that he was not taking chances because the rumours may be true. It was also learned that police units in Siargao’s nine towns have been placed on red alert.

14 December An assessment made at the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency meeting on 26 November placed 19 areas under terrorism threat level 3 or high terrorism threat category. The Zamboanga City Police Director said at a press conference that the high terrorism threat level was due to the persistent reports of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters’ plan to attack and engage in kidnap for ransom activities. Areas placed under level 3 were: Palawan; Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan; Zamboanga City; Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte; Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte; Zamboanga Sibugay; Cotabato City; Palembang, Sultan Kudarat; Isulan, Sultan Kudarat; Lebak, Sultan Kudarat; Kidapawan City; Kabakan, North Cotabato; Midsayap, North Cotabato; Aleosan, North Cotabato; Maquindanao; Basilan; Sulu; Tawi-Tawi; Marawi. The report placed Metro Manila under level 2 or moderate terrorism threat level. Other areas under level 2 were: Pagadian; Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur; Lanao del Norte; the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, Davao City and Samal Island.

21 December The Islamic State (IS) released a propaganda video showing a small group of “soldiers of the Caliphate in the Philippines” working on their fitness and agility by completing a series of assault course drills. Jihadi commanders are shown exhorting Filipinos to travel to Syria to join the IS fight and stating that IS has started its own terror camp in the Philippines.

22 December Giovani Rossano Tan, owner of a pig farm, was rescued by the Philippine National Police (PNP) at the Matnog Ferry Terminal in Sorsogon. Tan had been kidnapped on 10 December from the Tarlac Sentra Farm in Tarlac City. The kidnappers contacted the family and demanded a ransom of P20 million (USD447,000). The PNP tracked a white utility vehicle caught on closed television cameras as it travelled to Samar, Agusan del Norte and returned to Manila via the Matnog port. Five suspects, who were carrying high-powered firearms, were arrested. The PNP said no ransom was paid. A day after Tan’s rescue, another kidnapping victim, Michelle Ng, was released in front of her house after five days in captivity. Her family reportedly paid a ransom of P150,000 (USD3,350) to the kidnappers through Smart Money Padela. She had been kidnapped on 17 December in Barangay Dona Imelda, Quezon City. One suspect was subsequently arrested after the PNP tracked down the name of the recipient of the money transfer. According to police, the number of kidnappings in the country has dropped to 37 in 2015 from 50 in 2014 and 52 in 2013.

28 December Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo, head of the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group, said kidnap for ransom is still a very lucrative business and added that, while the PNP had put most of the kidnapping for ransom groups behind bars over the past few years, their leaders are still able to run operations from their prison cells. He cited the recent arrest of suspects of two Chinese-Filipino business people who were released before Christmas. Four men were arrested during the rescue of Giovanni Rosanno Tan on 22 December. Two of those arrested had previously been jailed on homicide charges. While in prison, they came into contact with the leaders of the Ampang Colangco, Bucala and other kidnapping groups. The leaders had used smuggled cell phones to continue to direct operations by merging members of their respective groups into new alliances

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