SECURITY UPDATE – MAY 2014

GENERAL/AFRICA


25 May Travelers Today listed the five most dangerous cities in the world taken from aggregated lists that measured murder rates, kidnapping rates, drug violence and general crime as:
• Kabul, Afghanistan. Bombings and attacks by the Taliban are almost daily occurrences and foreigners are often the targets of kidnappings and murder.
• Mogadishu, Somalia. The city has remained lawless and almost ungoverned for the better part of 20 years.
• Acapulco, Mexico. Mexican drug cartels wage perpetual wars and the city has a rising murder rate. Kidnappings are also commonplace.
• Caracas, Venezuela. The murder rate has risen over the years and kidnappings are commonplace.
• Distrito Central, Honduras. Drug cartels perpetuate much of the violence, kidnapping foreigners and murdering civilians.

AFRICA

Cameroon

15 May Cameroonian troops crossed into the Central African Republic (CAR) and rescued eight of 20 people kidnapped recently by Seleka rebels. Seleka rebels have increasingly resorted to kidnappings and ransom demands to fund their activities. A spokesperson for Cameroon’s military said they are still working on a strategy to free the remaining hostages and secure the border from future incursions.

17 May The Chinese embassy in Yaounde confirmed that a Chinese work site near the town of Waza, northern Cameroon, just across the border with Nigeria from Chibok where the schoolgirls were kidnapped in April, had been attacked by suspected Boko Haram militants. At least ten people were kidnapped during the raid. An engineering unit of the Chinese state run construction company, Sinohydro, operated the camp. Yan Chang Logone Development Holding Company, a subsidiary of Yanchang Petroleum that is exploring for oil, is also operating in the area. One member of the Cameroon special forces was killed and a Chinese national wounded.

Libya

13 May Fawaz al-Itan, Jordan’s ambassador to Libya, was freed by his kidnappers after being held for almost one month. He spoke to journalists and said that the incident was resolved peacefully, honourably and in a civilised manner between various Jordanian and Libyan intermediaries. He explained that he was held by the family of Mohammed al-Darsi, a Libyan national held in Jordan since 2007, who was reportedly released the previous week as part of the bargain to free the ambassador. Darsi had been held in Jordan over a plot to bomb Jordan’s main airport.

16 May A private TV channel reported that an attempt by militants to kidnap Abdel-Hamid Bu Zahra, Algerian Ambassador in Tripoli, outside his residence in central Tripoli was thwarted. The TV report claimed that unidentified militants besieged the ambassador’s residence and the adjacent embassy before security agencies intervened and helped the diplomats get to the airport where they boarded a flight to Algiers. Official Algerian sources contradicted this version of events stating the diplomats were flown to Algiers for their own safety after Algerian security agencies received information about a plan to abduct Algerian diplomatic personnel.

Mozambique

1 May The unnamed Portuguese businessman who was kidnapped in Matola on 10 April was released by his kidnappers. According to reports, the victim has been receiving medical treatment for dehydration since his release. The circumstances of his release are not known.

19 May Bilal Ayoob (17) was kidnapped over the weekend in Maputo. The victim, of Asian origin and son of the late Remah Momade Ayoob, owner of the well known toy store, Commercial Ayoob, was apparently kidnapped as he left the family toy store on 24 July Avenue. This is the second time that kidnappers have targeted the Ayoob family. At the beginning of the year, a 17 year old female member of the Ayoob family was kidnapped and released after an undisclosed ransom was paid.

19 May Jorge Khalau. General Commander of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM), publicly stated that convicted murderer Momad Assife Abdul Satar (“Nini”) is the mastermind behind most of the kidnappings that have occurred in cities since 2011. Although Satar has been in Maputo’s top security prison he has continued to use smuggled cell phones to maintain contact with the outside world. Although the police General Commander said that kidnappers arrested by the police have revealed this information, no kidnapper has yet been prepared to admit this fact in court.

20 May Manish Cantilal, a young businessman of Asian origin, was released on bail by the Maputo City Court. He is accused by the police of involvement in a wave of kidnappings in Maputo and Matola.

27 May A student, said to be aged 15 years, from the American International School of Maputo was kidnapped while walking to school. In the afternoon the American International School sent out an e-mail to parents alerting them to the incident. The American Embassy also confirmed it was helping assist in the investigation.

Nigeria

4 May Hon. Awori Miller, Chairman of Ahoada-West local government area Rivers State and chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, was kidnapped by three armed gunmen from the Acinia Hotel in Port Harcourt. It was not immediately known if a ransom demand had been made.

4 May Three Dutch nationals, two men, Erhard Leffers and Jandries Groenendjik, and a female, Marianne Vos, were kidnapped along with two Nigerians, while travelling to inspect a hospital built by Chevron Corp in the Niger Delta Region. Armed militants arrived by speedboat and forced the victims into the boat before speeding away. On 6 May, Nigerian activist, Sunny Ofehe, one of the victims, was released with a ransom demand of Euros 10 million (USD13.6 million) for the three Dutch nationals. On 11 May, a spokesman for Bayelsa State’s Joint Task Force said the three Dutch nationals had been released but declined to give further details saying they had been “rescued”.

11 May The number of school girls still being held after being kidnapped on 15 April from Chibok Government Girls Secondary School by Boko Haram militants was put at 276. President Goodluck Jonathan finally accepted assistance from the United States, Britain, France and China. Doctor Reuben Abati, a special adviser to the President, said the government will not pay a ransom for the release of the schoolgirls. The Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, has threatened to sell the girls “at the market”. The search for the missing girls is centred on the huge Sambisa forest. On 12 May a video emerged purportedly showing about 100 of the schoolgirls wearing hijabs. Shekau declared they have converted to Islam. In a further development, the Interior Minister said that the government would not release militant prisoners in a swop for the schoolgirls. The US military started flying surveillance drones as well as manned aircraft in operations to search for the schoolgirls. A further video was delivered to President Goodluck Jonathan by an intermediary on 27 May. He flatly rejected a deal to swap the schoolgirls for Boko Haram prisoners.

22 May When he resumed duties as Commissioner, Tunde Ogunsakin, Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, said the rate of kidnappings in the state has reduced by 49% for the three months January, February and March 2014. He added that 31 kidnap cases were recorded over the three months compared to 21 recorded in January 2014.

29 May Dr. Sylvanus Mordi, a member of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), was kidnapped near Igbanke, Orhionmwon, Edo State, while returning to Abuja from his home in Agbor, Delta State. Officials confirmed that the kidnappers had contacted his family with a ransom demand that is believed to be N10 million (USD62,000).

31 May Madam Ogboro Dark (90), mother-in-law of Hon. Kombowei Benson, Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, was kidnapped from her home in Korokorosei community, Southern Ijaw, at about 2am. Armed men entered the community via the Atlantic Ocean in three speed boats. A media adviser for the Speaker said that the family was still waiting to hear from the kidnappers.

Sudan

2 May According to the Sudanese authorities, three foreign hostages including two Chinese and an Algerian, were released by their kidnappers after an operation by the Sudanese security forces. The victims were kidnapped on 18 April during an armed attack on an oil field in West Kordofan operated by the Sudanese Greater Nile Operating Company. At the time of the incident, security sources in Khartoum accused the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of being responsible for the attack.

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