GENERAL

Worldwide Statistics

7 July According to a CNBC report on kidnapping for ransom, the number of kidnappings has been increasing, up 305 in Africa from 2013 to 2014 and rising in the Middle East. The Bureau of Consular Affairs at the US State Department stated that about 60% to 70% of overseas kidnapping of US citizens goes unreported. In 2014 alone, more than two dozen Americans working for companies had been kidnapped in terrorist incidents. The surge is said to be due to the fact that many militant groups have emerged around the world and there is an increase in economic and political instability. Of all the reported kidnappings in 2014, around 84% of the victims were local citizens and 16% foreigners. Around 35% of the incidents happened in Asia, 30% in Africa, 21% in the Americas, 12% in the Middle East and 2% in Europe and Russia. Nigeria was the country with the most known kidnapping incidents.

16 July A report on telesurtv quoted an article Business Insider published recently listing the Top 20 countries with the most reported kidnapping for ransom cases. Mexico was placed first followed by India, Nigeria, Iraq and Pakistan. The article also said that other websites, such as Business Times and Thrillist, also rank Mexico as number one.

AFRICA

Egypt

1 July Abanob Gerges, coordinator of the Copts Coalition in North Sinai, warned that the jihadist group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, was trying to drive Coptic families from North Sinai by kidnapping and murdering them. Since 2013, there have been a number of kidnapping for ransom cases targeting Copts. The army is fighting with the two main jihadist groups, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and the Movement for Unity and Jihad, in North Sinai.

22 July Croatia’s Foreign Ministry said that a Croatian man employed by a French company, identified only as TS aged 31 years, was kidnapped by four armed men on the outskirts of Cairo when they stopped his car as he was travelling to work and forced the driver out before driving away. The Foreign Ministry did not name the company but a news portal reported that it was Compagnie Generale de Geophysique (CGG) which specialises in oil and gas geology.

Libya

2 July Tariq Milad, vice secretary of the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the self proclaimed government of Libya, was kidnapped in Tripoli by unidentified armed men as he went to a mosque in Abu Slim. Tripoli has suffered a wave of kidnappings for ransom during the past few weeks.

7 July Sources stated that Adelkareem Msaad, Deputy General Manager of United Bank, was released by his kidnappers after “family and friends”, not the Bank, had paid a ransom of LD90,000 (USD121,900). The victim was kidnapped from near his home in Al Khalaa, south west of Tripoli, over two weeks earlier. The kidnappers had initially demanded LD500,000 (USD677,000) for his safe release. The sources added that he had been treated well and provided with his regular medication for diabetes.

18 July In a statement on social media, Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for kidnapping three African Christian migrants, from Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana. The kidnapping took place in Noufliyah, an Islamic State stronghold southeast of Sirte. The Islamic State published passport photographs of the three victims and pictures of them bound and blindfolded. The militants claimed their Cyrenaica State branch apprehended the three migrants at check points during a security operation.

20 July The Italian Foreign Ministry announced that four Italian citizens, employees of the Parma based general contractor, Bonatti, had been kidnapped from near a compound owned by the Italian oil and gas company, Eni, close to the oil and gas port of Mellitah during the previous evening. The Italians are understood to have been travelling to the area from the Tunisian border. Mellitah is not far from Sabratha, which, Tunisia says, hosts an Islamic State base that trained Seifeddine Rezgui, the militant who killed 38 foreign tourists in Sousse, Tunisia, last month, and two gunmen who killed 22 foreign tourists at the Tunis Bardo museum in March. It is also close to the beach where British oil worker Mark De Salis and a New Zealand woman were found shot dead in January 2014. On 29 July, Italian Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, told parliament that no indication has arisen to show the involvement of the Islamic State in the kidnapping. He added that it is believed to have possibly been the work of criminals for extortion purposes and that, to date, no terrorist or criminal group had claimed responsibility.

30 July An Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesman said that four Indian teachers had been kidnapped by militants in Sirte. Three are teachers at the University of Sirte and the other works at the university. They were stopped at a checkpoint approximately 50kms from Sirte while travelling back to India via Tripoli and Tunis. On 29 July, two of the victims were released by their kidnappers.

Mali

7 July According to the French army, Mohamed Ali Ag Wadossene, one of the operational leaders of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was killed during Operation Barkhane near the northeastern town of Kidal. Two other “terrorists” were captured. Although never confirmed by the French, Mali admitted in December 2014 that four prisoners, including Ag Wadossene, were released in exchange for the freedom of Frenchman Serge Lazarevic, who had been a kidnapped from his hotel in northeastern Mali in November 2011 and had been a captive of the militants for three years. Lazarevic was the last of more than a dozen French citizens taken hostage in recent years, with those in Africa reaching a high of 15 in 2014.

22 July Imtiaz Sooliman, head of the South African humanitarian organisation, Gift of the Givers, said that he had agreed to a request from the sister of Swedish national, Johan Gustafson, to help secure the release of her brother who is being held in northern Mali along with South African Stephen McGowan. The two men were kidnapped in northern Mali in November 2011 by what analysts believe to be al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The two hostages were shown together in a video released by their kidnappers last month appealing to their governments for help in obtaining their release. Gift of the Givers has sent a negotiator to Mali to try to make contact with the kidnappers.

28 July Italian Rossella Urru, who was kidnapped on 23 October 2011 in Mali and released on 18 July 2012, married her fellow captive, Spanish citizen Enric Gonyalons. The couple along with Ainhoa Fernandez del Rincon were working together in a refugee camp at Tinduf, Algeria, although they did not know each other at the time, when they were kidnapped during the night of 23 October 2011 by militants from the Movement for Unity and Jihad in East Africa (MUYAO), a branch of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Mozambique

1 July It was reported that three high risk inmates escaped from the prison cells of the Maputo Police Command on 30 June shortly after being transferred from the Machava Maximum Security Penitentiary. On the same day eight Mozambican citizens were sentenced to between 11 and 16 years imprisonment for their involvement in criminal activities including illegal possession and use of firearms to kidnapping and the false imprisonment of two minors. In addition, the eight kidnappers were ordered to pay the victims’ families MT20 million (USD550,000). The first victim was Rui Tezinde (9) who was kidnapped in 2013 in Maputo. The kidnappers demanded USD1 million but settled for MT2.1 million (USD54,000). The victim was released four days after the kidnapping when the family paid the ransom. In the second incident, David Moreira (7), son of the owner of Maputo’s largest bookshop, was kidnapped on 23 December 2013 from his school in Coop, Maputo. The initial demand was MT20 million (USD550,000) but this was reduced to MT8 million (USD220,000).

Nigeria

4 July A statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the Delta State Police Command, said Mrs. Nkechi Mordi (52) had been freed by her kidnappers as a result of intense police pressure. She had been kidnapped on 30 June from her house in Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha South Local Government Area, Delta State, at around 6:00pm by five armed men and was driven away in her personal vehicle.

4 July Six gunmen stormed a community market in Enewari, Bayelsa State, kidnapped three women and shot dead a young man who tried to stop them. The kidnappers arrived in two speedboats firing their weapons in the air. They forced the three victims into a speedboat and made their escape.

5 July Edo State members of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Edo State Chapter, marched in protest against the kidnapping of their colleague, Dr. Paul Erie, a lecturer in the department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Faculty of Agriculture, on 16 June. He was kidnapped as he drove into his house at Ignake when gunmen forced him at gunpoint into the boot of a car and drove away. Reports suggest that the kidnappers contacted the family with an initial ransom demand of N30 million (USD150,750) which they later reduced to N12 million (USD60,300). They later instructed the family to make a payment drop of “whatever they could raise” at a nominated location. However, six days after the payment, the victim has yet to be released.

5 July Mrs. Martha Nestor Binabo (48), wife of a former acting governor of Bayelsa State, was freed by her kidnappers after her husband paid a ransom of N8.2 million (USD41,200). A family source disclosed that the victim was handed over to a negotiator in the Buguma area of Rivers State in the early hours of the morning. The source added that the kidnappers had agreed to release their victim after the family complied with their instructions not to involve the police. After collecting the ransom payment, the kidnappers gave Mrs. Binabo N18,000 (USD90) to pay her transport fare and a big fish with the instructions to use the fish to prepare pepper soup for her husband. The victim was kidnapped on 29 June from the premises of her company in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, by gunmen dressed in military uniforms.

8 July Fred Eno, a human rights activist and negotiator for the release of the 219 students who were kidnapped by Boko Haram from Chibok in April 2014, said that the extremists had offered to exchange the students for 16 Boko Haram militant leaders held by the government. He said he could not discuss the details and added that the five week old administration of President Muhammadu Buhari offers a “clean slate”. Femi Adesina, Presidential Adviser, said that the government “will not be averse” to talks with Boko Haram.

8 July Mrs. Benaibi Keboh was kidnapped by gunmen who stormed Patani community, Delta State, and took her from the Patani Asphalt Production site of SETRACO Construction Company that is working on the East-West road. Expatriates and staff of the company ran for cover while the shooting was going on. The kidnappers made their escape with their hostage along a creek. An eye witness said that Mrs. Keboh had only just arrived at the site when the gunmen, who appeared to have been monitoring her movements, arrived and started shooting before abducting her.

10 July Rose Aina (75) was kidnapped by unknown gunmen from her residence at around 9:00pm after she had retired to bed. On 14 July, agents from the Ekiti State Police Command’s Anti-Kidnapping Squad, who had traced the kidnappers through their telephone numbers, rescued the victim from the kidnappers’ den at Ita Ogbolu town at around 6:30am. Two suspects were arrested along with the victim’s driver who is said to have provided information to the kidnappers. The police said that no ransom was paid. The Ekiti State Police Commissioner, Etop James, said that the suspects were members of syndicates that have been carrying out high profile kidnappings in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Delta States recently.

10 July Officers from the Marine Police Department and the Anti Kidnapping Unit of Bayelsa State Police Command assisted in the rescue of Emeka Ezea, who had been kidnapped along with two companions when unknown gunmen attacked a facility of the off shore company, OS/LEX, in the Amatu and Ezetu areas of Bayelsa State on 22 June. The victims were held in a camp between Azuzuama and Koluama. Ezea escaped his kidnappers and trekked for two days until he was found by fishermen and taken to a Marine Police patrol in the creeks.

11 July According to a source in the Delta State Polytechnic, the kidnappers of Mr. Chike Gbemudu, from the Directorate of General Studies, have sent a ransom demand of N20 million (USD100,500) for his release. The victim was kidnapped during the early hours of the morning on 4 July from his residence in Ozoro, Delta State.

13 July Rev. Fr. Francis Ugoo Egbebu, Parish Priest of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Umuola, Amaigbo, Nwangele local council area, Imo State, was kidnapped. He was last seen driving out of his Parish in the morning although it is not clear where he was kidnapped; some reports say he was abducted near Owerri. The kidnappers have contacted close relatives of the priest and demanded a ransom of N5 million (USD25,125).

18 July Police in Bayelsa State confirmed that Prof. Zibokere Daukiye, Chairman, Odi Compensation Funds Disbursement Committee in Bayelsa State, was kidnapped in Yenagoa by gunmen after they stormed the victim’s residence. The kidnappers escaped with their victim in a speedboat.

18 July Chukwudi Ubani (45) has told the police how he ran a kidnapping for ransom syndicate from London. It is alleged he has been responsible for several kidnapping cases in Rivers State and its environs for several years. He was recently lured back to Nigeria and the police arrested him in his house in Port Harcourt. Investigations revealed that, out of ransoms he had collected, Ubani had built a number of houses and hotels in Port Harcourt which he used to detain hostages. One of his victims was Joy Ifeoma (33) who was kidnapped from her house in Port Harcourt on 20 January 2015. The kidnappers initially demanded N100 million (USD502,500) for her release but later agreed to a payment of N20 million (USD100,500). The victim was released after being held for 22 days after the payment. Ubani bought a Lexus jeep for his second wife out of the proceeds and quickly travelled back to London to avoid arrest. He was arrested when he returned to Nigeria to master mind another kidnapping. He said to police: “I am based in London and am married to two wives. Life has not been easy for me and to meet with expectations, I had to make quick money. Luckily for me, at the end of each assignment, I will return to London because I know the police will be tracking my phones to arrest me. I have been able to build several houses and hotels within and outside the state”.

20 July Mrs. Felicia Eze, Head of IMSU’s Department of Information Management Technology at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), was kidnapped from her home early in the morning by unknown gunmen.

21 July The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced that the threat from terrorism in Nigeria was running “High” and red zoned many areas advising British citizens to stay away from those areas. A FCO spokesman said: “Attacks can literally happen anywhere although major towns and cities in the north of the country are most at risk. The help we can give expats or tourists is limited and all but essential travel to some areas should be cancelled. Kidnapping is also a risk, mainly for ransom. Not only terrorists but criminal gangs are striking all over the country”. Particular danger spots that were mentioned included public places such as religious gatherings, markets, public transport stops and petrol stations.

21 July In cooperation with a local security group, Ubulu-Uku vigilance group, police in Delta State arrested three kidnappers including a community title leader during a raid on the suspected kidnappers den. The operation was carried out as a follow up to the kidnapping of a 13 year old school girl in Ogwashi-Uku about two weeks earlier. The kidnappers had demanded N10 million (USD50,250) for the victim’s release. The girl was rescued unharmed. Three other alleged kidnappers escaped.

23 July His Royal Highness Chief CAO Otobotekere (92) of the Gbarain clan of Tombia community in Bayelsa State was kidnapped at around 7:30am when five armed men stormed his residence, forced him into a car and drove away to the Ammassoma-Tombia Bridge. It has been reported that they burned the car and took their victim away in a speedboat. Eye witnesses claimed that the kidnappers were wearing police vests.

26 July Papa Atser Kyausu, octogenarian father of Chief Athanisius Atser Kyausu, an oil dealer and businessman, was kidnapped from his residence in Vandeikiya, Benue State, at around 9:00pm. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s son and demanded N20 million (USD100,500) for his release. The son said he did not have that sort of money. On 29 July, the police stormed the kidnappers’ hideout, arrested three suspects and freed the victim. Two further suspects escaped.

30 July Four gunmen tried to force their way into the residence at Amassoma of Elder Remembrance Ogbe, Council Chairman Sothern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, at about 8:00pm in an attempt to kidnap him. Police engaged the intruders in a gun battle and two police corporals were killed before the gunmen retreated. Police later arrested a man who is suspected of being the leader of the kidnapping group.

31 July Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, acting director of army public relations, said that troops had rescued a total of 71 hostages of Boko Haram, mostly women and children, over two days from villages about 25 miles from Maiduguri, Borno State. Some hostages had been held for about one year.

Senegal

13 July An army source who wished to remain anonymous, said that twelve loggers who had been kidnapped four days earlier in the southern Casamance region, had been freed in the Yassine forest. The kidnappers had initially demanded 10 million CFA francs (USD17,000) from the sawmill where the loggers are employed. This was lowered to CFA700,000 (USD1,200). The army source could not confirm that a ransom was paid. Casamance is a strip of land separated from the rest of Senegal by Gambia and has seen low level separatist insurgency since 1982.

South Africa

7 July An unnamed woman was kidnapped at gunpoint while out jogging in Manning Road, Durban, at about 5:00am. Three armed men driving a VW Polo accosted the jogger, bundled her into the Polo and drove off to her residence in Cato Road where they escorted her at gunpoint into her house. A motorist who witnessed the incident followed the car and reported the matter to the police who sent a patrol to Cato Road. The gang brought the woman out of the house at gunpoint and forced her back into their car before fleeing from the police who gave chase. Officers shot one of the tyres forcing the kidnappers to abandon the woman in the car and flee on foot. The woman was rescued and was not physically injured during the incident.

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