ASIA

Afghanistan

14 March The New York Times reported that, after the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent about USD1 million to the Afghan presidential palace as part of a secret fund, Afghan officials used the money in the spring of 2010 to pay for the release of one of its diplomats held hostage by al Qaeda. Other countries are said to have contributed a further USD4 million. “God blessed us with a good amount of money this month,” Atiyah Abd al Rahman, al Qaeda’s general manager, wrote in a letter to Osama bin Laden in a letter in June 2010 and suggested the funds be used for weapons and other operational necessities. Bin Laden urged caution fearing the Americans had laced the money with radiation or poison, or were tracking it.

Bangladesh

31 March The Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), a children’s rights organisation, said that there has been an alarming rise in the kidnapping of children across the country. Most kidnappings involve the participation of close relatives, friends and neighbours. A worrying trend is the increased involvement of law enforcement officials in kidnappings. In most cases, the children are lured away with chocolates or food. Frequently, a child is kidnapped, a ransom demanded and then the child is murdered so the kidnappers cannot be identified. Police Headquarters statistics show that at least 80 children were kidnapped during the first two months of 2015 which is a large increase compared to previous years. In 2014 at least 118 children were kidnapped of who 50 were killed. In 2013, 42 children were kidnapped and 13 killed. There were 67 kidnappings in 2012.

India

23 March Assam’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Rockybul Hussain, said in a written reply to a question by a member of the Assam Legislature that over 17,800 people had been kidnapped in Assam since 2011. Kidnapping cases have increased each year with 3,785 reported cases in 2011, 3,812 in 2012, 4,831 in 2013 and 5,378 in 2014. Extortion cases have also risen over the same period with 992 cases in 2011, 1,074 cases in 2012, 1,214 cases in 2013 and 1,357 cases in 2014.

Pakistan

24 March The doctors’ association in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, estimate that more than 30 doctors have been kidnapped during the past three years. The problem is not confined to the northwest. The medics’ association in Karachi said that 10 doctors have been kidnapped in the past two years. Doctors are seen as relatively easy targets in the country as they are well paid but often lack the protection of influential connections that businessmen might enjoy.

28 March The Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that two Czech women, Hana Humpalova and Antonie Chrastecka, both 26 years old, have returned home after being kidnapped in Pakistan in 2013. He added they had been released with the help of the Turkish Moslem humanitarian organisation, IHH. Izzet Sahin, the IHH official leading the negotiations, said the families of the victims had contacted IHH as a last resort after exhausting all other channels. The two victims, both psychology students, were kidnapped on 13 March 2013 in Baluchistan province while being escorted by a tribal policeman after crossing into Pakistan from Iran on holiday. In a video released shortly after their kidnapping, the two young Czechs pleaded for the release of Pakistani neuroscientist, Aafia Siddiqui, who was jailed in the United States in 2010 on charges of terrorist links.

FAR EAST

Malaysia

7 March Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, Chief Information Officer, The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), quoted informants as saying that Zakia Aliep, a Malaysian policeman, had been released by his kidnappers at around 2:30pm on 6 March. Zakia Aliep was kidnapped on 12 July 2014 following an attack on a Marine Police unit at Pulau Mabul off Semporna. Colonel Cabunoc said the victim’s release could partly have been due to the relentless pursuit operations by the AFP’s Joint Task Group Sulu.

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