GENERAL

Piracy

26 January According to a recent report, piracy and maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea reduced by nearly one third in 2015 compared with 2014 and there were no confirmed attacks on merchant vessels by Somali pirates although three Iranian fishing vessels were detained. However, another report predicted that vessels sailing off the coast of Somalia face an increased risk of piracy in 2016 due to deteriorating political conditions in the country. There were 37 crew members kidnapped during nine separate incidents off the Niger Delta during 2015 compared to 14 incidents in 2014 with at least 34 crew members kidnapped. The main targets were western crew members, usually the Captain and Chief Engineer. European crew members attract ransom payments of about USD100,000 whereas West African crew members only attract several thousand dollars. A leading maritime security expert said he thought 2016 might see the first maritime terrorist incidents in Southeast Asia. He explained that there are a number of terrorists who are being released from Indonesia for a few of the early 2000s bombings and a number of Syrian fighters are returning to Asia.

AFRICA

Burkina Faso

15 January Al Qaeda militants attacked the Splendid Hotel, a popular hotel with Westerners, and the adjacent Cappuccino Cafe, in Ouagadougou late in the evening. A number of hotel guests were taken hostage and people killed. Gunfire and explosions could be heard as local troops backed by French forces that arrived from Mali, tried to retake control of the area. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) posted a message on “Muslim Africa” Telegram account stating: “fighters broke into a restaurant of one of the biggest hotels in the capital of Burkina Faso and are now entrenched and the clashes are continuing with the enemies of the religion”. During the operation, more than 126 hostages were freed and four extremists and at least 23 other people were killed. Two of the three attackers at the Splendid Hotel were identified as females according to Burkina Faso’s President. The attack was carried out by the same extremist group that attacked a luxury hotel in Bamako, Mali, in November 2015 killing 20 people.

16 January Abi Ouattara, a security ministry spokeswoman, said that an Australian doctor from Perth and his wife, later named as Dr. Ken Elliot (80) and his wife Jocelyn, had been kidnapped from their home in the town of Baraboule near the borders with Mali and Niger, at about 4:00am. The couple were sleeping and were taken from their beds. They had moved to the country in 1972 and founded Djibo’s first medical clinic. More than 25 Westerners have been kidnapped in the Sahel region, including parts of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal and other countries, since 2008. A spokesman for the Malian militant group Ansar Dine, Hamadou Ag Khallimi, told ABC the couple were being held by jihadists from the al Qaeda linked “Emirate of the Sahara”. The group is a branch of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and operates in northern Mali. Professor Clive Williams, a security specialist, said the Australian government’s no-ransom policy and lack of relevant expertise mean they have “very little to offer”. He added: “It’s better for them to disengage from any contact with the kidnappers and let a professional negotiator do the work for the family”. Private contractors with local relationships, knowledge and expertise can be arranged through organisations such as Hostage UK

Central African Republic (CAR)

13 January The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) headed by Joseph Kony, one of the world’s most wanted warlords, reportedly killed one villager and kidnapped dozens more during two raids carried out over the weekend in a remote diamond producing region near the village of Diya that is located 370 miles east of Bangui, the capital city. In the first incident, ten people were kidnapped but six were later freed. In the second, about twenty people were kidnapped.

Kenya

6 January Two suspects, a male and a female, were charged in court for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping of Dennis Mombo, Managing Director of Mwananchi Microfinance, at Daykio Heights on 31 October 2015. The kidnappers demanded Sh.20 million (USD195,600) for the victim’s release. The police studied CCTV, identified a vehicle used in the kidnapping and arrested the two suspects. They are still looking for more suspects.

7 January Police arrested a Sudanese man said to be the mastermind of kidnappings and robberies targeting foreign businesspeople. Detectives said that the suspect and his gang kidnapped a Sudanese businessman in Eastleigh, Nairobi, during December and held him in an apartment in Kilimani, Nairobi, for 17 days. The victim called his family and told them to pay a ransom of Sh.500,000 (USD4,900). The kidnapping was reported to the police who tracked the gang to the apartment and arrested two men. It was also reported that the gang had kidnapped another Sudanese businessman who left the country immediately after his release. In another incident, Ms. Bibian Atieno Okumu, a businesswoman, met a man who promised to take her to buy iron. With four accomplices, he kidnapped Ms. Okumu and made her instruct her daughter to pay Sh.400,000 (USD3,900) into an account under the threat to kill her and her family if the police were informed. The criminal was arrested when he went to collect the money. Meanwhile, detectives traced Ms. Okumu’s telephone signal and went to a house on Lucky Summer Estate which they raided shooting four kidnappers dead.

10 January The police reported they had arrested Agnes Gakli, a house girl, who had kidnapped her employer’s 21 month old baby from the Gitaru area, Nairobi, on 6 January. The suspect had been employed one week earlier. She contacted the baby’s parents and demanded Sh. 20 million (USD195,600) for the baby’s release. Police, working on leads from the public, arrested the suspect in the bar where she works in Ngong town.

14 January Seven people were kidnapped by a gang at the Longisa trading centre in Bomet county as they left the Longisa County Referral Hospital where they had gone for treatment. All the victims are believed to be from Tumoiyot village in Narok South sub-county, Narok county. A relative of one of the victims said that his niece had called to say they were kidnapped as they boarded a Toyota Probox which was parked near the gates of the hospital. They were blindfolded and taken to Mulot trading estate. The kidnappers have repeatedly called relatives of the victims and demanded a ransom of Sh100,000 (USD978) per person. Police have traced the telephone signals to the Mulot trading centre but have not been able to pinpoint the location.

Libya

13 January According to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, one of their citizens, whose name they would not give but Austrian media identified as Dalibor S. aged 39 years, arrived in Vienna after being released by his kidnappers. The victim had been kidnapped in March 2015 by militants from the Islamic State from Zella, 750 kilometres from Tripoli. A Serbian citizen was released at the same time. No further details were provided.

27 January Mohamed al Ra’id, a member for Misrata in the internationally recognised parliament and Chief Executive of the Misrata based al Naseem yoghurt and ice cream company, was kidnapped in Tobruk by “militiamen” as he travelled to the airport. The person holding the victim has demanded the transfer of his two sons, who have been convicted in a drugs case, from Misrata prison to another in the east of the country. Local dignitaries are mediating to secure the victim’s release and the United Nations have demanded that he be released.

Mali

8 January Malian and Swiss authorities stated that Beatrice Stockly, a Swiss missionary in her 40s, had been kidnapped in Timbuktu. The kidnapping took place before dawn when the kidnappers arrived at the victim’s residence in four vehicles. One parked in front of the victim’s house, armed men went into the house and kidnapped the victim. The other three vehicles secured the area at a distance. This is the second time she has been kidnapped. In April 2012, she was kidnapped by militants and released ten days later.

On 27 January, in a video seen by AFP, al Qaeda’s north Africa affiliate, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), claimed the kidnapping of the victim with a masked English- accented jihadist, dubbed the “Saharan Jihadi John”, listing the conditions for her release. In the video that lasts for eight minutes, the jihadist says that the victim was kidnapped because she spread the teachings of Christianity. The conditions for the victim’s release included freeing a number of AQIM fighters jailed in Mali and one of their leaders, Abu Ahmad Tourab, nom de guerre of Ahmed al Faki al Mahdi, accused of ordering the destruction of historical monuments in Timbuktu in 2012, detained at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The victim appears at the end of the video dressed in a black hijab. She identifies herself and states the date, Tuesday 19 January 2016.

On 31 January, Swiss Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter, told a Sunday newspaper that the case was very delicate and very difficult to solve adding that, as it was the second time the victim had been kidnapped, it considerably complicated efforts to free her. He pointed out that the last time the victim was kidnapped, her kidnappers had demanded that she leave and never return to Mali and that is where the difficulty lies. He acknowledged the Swiss authorities had warned the victim on a number of occasions about the dangers of remaining in Mali, but she ignored the warnings. Switzerland has a clear policy against paying ransoms.

Mozambique

1 January The Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) confirmed that Danish Satar had been extradited from Italy and was now in Maputo. He was arrested by Interpol in Rome, Italy, in November 2015 on suspicion of being one of the people behind a wave of kidnappings in Mozambique since 2011. The crime for which he was arrested was “disobedience” but it has been suggested that the crimes of kidnapping and “private imprisonment” could be added to the charge. PRM first asked Interpol’s assistance to track down Satar in mid-2012 when he was thought to have been in Dubai. It was believed he was acting as the middle man between the kidnappers in Mozambique and the men ordering the kidnappings. One of those giving the orders was thought to be Danish’s father, Asslam Abdul Satar, last heard of in Pakistan. A high ranking but anonymous police officer said that, during police interrogations of arrested kidnappers, Danish Satar’s name was repeatedly mentioned. The source believed that Satar negotiated the ransoms and gave the orders to release the victims once the money had been paid.

1 January Lee Yit, a Chinese national and owner of the Arco Iris quarry near the city of Tete, was kidnapped when driving in the company of a second Chinese national. The kidnappers forced the victim into their vehicle and drove away leaving the victim’s companion with his vehicle. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of USD1 million. Although there has been a wave of kidnappings of business people, mostly of Asian origin, in the country since 2011, the Tete provincial police commander, Lurdes Ferreira, said this was the first kidnapping reported in Tete.

8 January During a press conference, the Secretary of Mobilisation, Propaganda and Social Organisations Frelimo Party, announced the kidnappings of its leaders in Gorongosa, Marinque, Cheringoma, Chemba, Mwanza, Nhamatanda and Chibabava districts by armed Renamo men. The kidnappings took place on 11 December, the victim’s whereabouts is still not known, 26 December, two couples were kidnapped and released next day and, most recently, on 5 January when the victim was released the following day.

Nigeria

4 January Mrs. Palsy Elekima, a member of the Caretaker Committee of Degema Local Council, and her son were released after being kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Bukuma, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, while attending the Miss Bukuma Beauty Pageant on 27 December. Godspower Ipalibo Madudoye, the Coordinator of the National Youth Council, Degema Chapter, confirmed the release but did not disclose whether a ransom had been paid.

4 January Gunmen kidnapped an unnamed housewife from Dafa, Kwai Area Council, Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The incident happened at around 12:30am when the gunman attacked the community shooting into the air, forced people living close to the village market to flee before breaking into the victim’s house. The woman’s husband owns building materials and veterinary drugs shops in the village. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s husband and demanded a ransom of N10 million (USD50,250).

4 January Mrs. Maimunat Ogude, wife of Fegor Ogude, Super Eagles (the Nigerian International Football team) and Amkar Perm of Russia football player, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen from her residence in Warri, Delta State, between 7:30pm and 8:00pm. The kidnappers forced the victim into her car and drove away. The car was later found in Ughelli. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s family with an unspecified ransom demand. On 10 January, the victim was released. It was not clear whether or not a ransom had been paid.

6 January Concerned by the kidnapping of medical personnel and others in Delta State, members of the Delta State chapter of Medical and Dental Consultant Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) and their Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH) colleagues, marched through streets of the state capital, Asaba. The protest was prompted by the kidnapping of Dr. Obiabo Yahaya, a neurologist, on 29 December 2015. A statement released by the protesters said that “kidnapping in Delta State has become a very lucrative business with little risk to the kidnappers and victims’ families are left with no option but to pay. The kidnappers collect the ransom and move to the next victim certain that they would not be caught and the ransom demanded must be paid”.

6 January Abogidi Edward Ofulue III (52), the Obi of Ubulu-Uku, Delta State, was kidnapped when six unidentified gunmen ambushed his vehicle on the Abior Road in Aniocha South Local Government Area, Delta State. It was reported that the monarch was travelling with a young pastor, identified as “the son of Nwaugbo”, of the Deeper Life Bible ministry who doubled as his aide at the palace. The pastor reportedly returned to the palace having escaped from the kidnappers. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s family, demanded N100 million (USD502,500) for his release and warned not to inform the police. A close relative said: “It is a taboo to kidnap a royal father and take him into the bush where he is in the last two weeks”. Royal fathers from across Delta State met and resolved to ensure the Obi was released soonest. On 21 January, a family source confirmed that the decomposed body of the victim had been found at Umunede, Delta State. Later reports stated that the family had paid the ransom of N100 million (USD502,500) but the kidnappers had abandoned the money in the bush and the family had taken the money back. The kidnappers are also said to have been dressed as Fulani herdsmen and to have been helped by a member of the indigenous community.

10 January Dr. Ibifubara Apriokor, a female Ophthalmologist at the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen while on her way to church in Garden City, Port Harcourt, in company with her children. Eye witnesses reported that she attempted to run away from her vehicle after realising she was being trailed. Her children were left abandoned in her vehicle. On 20 January, the NMA announced that the victim had been released the previous night but did not disclose if any ransom had been paid.

10 January Pastor Ayo Funsho Raphael of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Kogi, was kidnapped by about ten armed men as he preached at the altar. The kidnappers who fired sporadically in the air, ordered the congregation to lie face down while they dragged the pastor out of the church and into the bush. The kidnappers contacted church elders in the evening and demanded a ransom of N50 million (USD251,250). According to reports, in the past few weeks over 100 people have been kidnapped in Kogi State and people are living in fear as kidnappers randomly stop vehicles and kidnap occupants.

11 January Victor Olabimtan, a former Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly (ODSHA), was kidnapped late the previous evening at a military checkpoint after leaving Akure, Ondo State, for Abuja. The kidnappers, who wore military camouflage uniform, bundled the victim into a vehicle and drove away.

12 January Dr, Isaac Opurum, Director, Community House Services, Rivers State Primary Healthcare Board, was kidnapped at 3:00am from his residence in Port Harcourt by unknown gunmen. The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) threatened to withdraw its services if nothing was done to free Dr. Opurum and Dr. Apriokor within 48 hours. The NMA Chairman stated that during 2015, 21 of its members had been kidnapped for ransom in Rivers State and added that families that had paid ransoms for the release of their loved ones had not been able to offset the monies borrowed for ransom a year after.

Doctors in Rivers State went on a “warning strike” commencing on 14 January until 8:00am on 17 January. If concerted efforts by all arms of government to obtain the release of their colleagues had not been made, a meeting was due to be called on 17 January to discuss declaring a full scale strike. On 20 January, the NMA announced that the victim had been released the previous night but did not disclose if any ransom had been paid.

15 January Hajiya Suwaiba, wife of Honourable C Nehu, member representing Lame constituency in Bauchi State, was kidnapped at around 1:45am when gunmen stormed Zalau village in Bauchi state.

18 January Edo State Police Command arrested a suspected notorious gang of kidnappers that specialised in kidnapping little children. The gang had a camp in the bush near Benin City where they kept their victims before demanding a ransom. The alleged leader of the gang, Lucky Usifi (aka “General”), told reporters at the Police Headquarters: “I prefer kidnapping children from five years below. They are easy to handle. Once you capture and give them assurance that you love them, they would be calm. I feed them bobo, pap and noodles. Sometimes they make a request for a choice of food but then you explain to them you do not have the money to buy the food, they understand. We were armed robbers before we went into kidnapping. We have just carried out two kidnappings but we have carried out several robbery operations”. The gang kidnapped twin sisters aged three years on 24 December 2015 and demanded N1 million (USD5,025) for their release. One of the gang collected the ransom and double crossed his colleagues. Police rescued the two victims on 2 January 2016 and arrested the gang members.

18 January Professor ME Ogburie, the Director of the Centre for Continuing Education, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was kidnapped from his hometown, Ekele, Ikwerre Local Government Area, Rivers State, by unknown gunmen three days after the burial of his father. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s family but did not make a ransom demand during the first contact.

22 January Alhaji Olayinka Oshinkoya, one of the leaders of the Ogun State chapter of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, was kidnapped by three gunmen at about 9:00am on the Siun-Kopape-Sagumu-Abeokuta Expressway while travelling from his base in Ijebu Ode to Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. According to the victim’s brother, he had alighted from his car to relieve himself when another vehicle pulled up, the gunmen got out and forced the victim into their vehicle. Eye witnesses said the kidnappers turned their vehicle around and drove away towards Sagamu.

22 January Gift Mac Enyida, Chairman of the Citizens Popular Party (CPP) in Rivers State, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Ahoda East, Rivers State.

23 January Troops from the army killed dozens of Boko Haram terrorists and freed 370 hostages during raids on Boko Haram camps in Borno State in the northeast of the country. The Nigerian army is leading a regional offensive against Boko Haram that includes troops from Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin.

24 January Duncan Eke, an engineer, was kidnapped at about 12:40pm when gunmen invaded a church at Igbedi community, Kolokuma-Opokuma, Bayelsa State. The officiating cleric was shot during the kidnapping. It is thought the gunmen may have followed the victim to the church. He was forced into a speedboat and taken away.

25 January Pastor David Onubendo, the Kebbi State Overseer of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry (DCLM), was kidnapped by gunmen in Okene, Kogi State. The victim was returning from the church’s Bible Study at around 9:00pm. A close family source said that the kidnappers had contacted the victim’s wife and demanded a ransom of N50 million (USD251,250).

28 January Francis Umeh, an auto parts dealer, was returning home when he was kidnapped at around 7:30pm in Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos. According to witnesses, four gunmen wearing military camouflage uniforms intercepted his vehicle in front of a petrol station close to the victim’s house. They forced him out of his car and dragged him into their vehicle before speeding away. One eye witness reported that the kidnappers shot sporadically in the air and policemen at a nearby checkpoint abandoned their vehicle and fled. This latest kidnapping occurred less than two weeks after another businessman, Cosmos Ujukwu, was kidnapped near Festac Town in Lagos. The kidnappers contacted the family and demanded USD2 million for his release. The family paid USD1 million but the kidnappers have not released Ujukwu as they are demanding the remaining USD1 million.

29 January HRM Josiah Umukoro Aghazi I (96), Odio-Ologobo (traditional ruler) of Olomoro Kingdom in Isoko South Government Area, Delta State, was kidnapped by gunmen while returning to his palace from his wife’s residence at about 7:30am. Four armed men stopped his car, dragged him out and took him away in their vehicle. The kidnappers used the victim’s telephone to contact the family and demanded a ransom of N50 million (USD251,250). They then switched off the telephone so it could not be traced.

31 January Captain (retired) Henry Ungbuku, Special Adviser on Aviation to Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, was kidnapped as he left a service at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Light House Parish, Iwofe, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State. Witnesses said the kidnappers were waiting for the victim to leave the church, pointed a gun at him and ordered him into his vehicle before driving away.

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