ASIA

Afghanistan

11 May Officials said that 19 members of the Hazara ethnic community had been released by their kidnappers. The 19 victims had been among 30 Hazaras kidnapped in February in Zabul province. The 19 were released in exchange for 22 Uzbeks, including women and children who are thought to be family members of the kidnappers. The kidnappers demanded the release of another six people in exchange for the remaining 11 Hazara hostages. The exchange took place in Jaghori district, Ghazni province.

13 May Gunmen stormed the restaurant at the Park Palace Hotel, Kabul, at around 8:30pm where a party for a Canadian was being held. The siege lasted until the early hours of 14 May. The authorities said that five people, including an American had been killed, six people were wounded and 54 hostages rescued. Amar Sinha, Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, said he believed at least six of the hostages were Indian citizens.

16 May General Zelmal Oryakhail, police chief of Paktia province, said a number of civilian vehicles had been stopped by Taliban gunmen who blocked roads in the province that borders Pakistan. He added that six people were still being held out of the 22 who had been kidnapped. The Taliban claimed responsibility in tweets from an account associated with the group.

29 May The German Foreign Ministry announced the release of an unnamed male German aid worker with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) who had been kidnapped in Kunduz Province in mid-April. A spokesman for the governor of Kunduz Province said the victim was rescued by local security forces in the Charhar Dara district. Afghan police said he was abducted by Taliban militants. A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman declined to provide further details about the kidnapping and when asked whether a ransom had been paid, reiterated the standard German position: “The government does not allow itself to be blackmailed”.

Bangladesh

2 May Abeer (8), a student and the only son of Shahadat Hossain Shameem, managing director of TNZ Group of Companies, was kidnapped when the car he was travelling in while returning to his home in Banani from school in Uttara, was stopped by men posing as law enforcement agents at about 8:30pm. The kidnappers took the driver and one other person travelling in the car away to a distant location before driving Abeer to a rented house in Pallabi that they had set up for the kidnapping. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s father and demanded Tk10 crore (USD1.28 million) for his release. After negotiations, they agreed to a ransom payment of Tk2 crore (USD256,000). The victim was released on the evening of 6 May after his father paid the ransom. On 13 May, the police arrested five suspects and recovered Tk1.8 crore (USD230,000) of the ransom. The police have the names of a further nine suspects.

India

2 May Dr. Pankaj Gupta, a physician, and his wife Shobhra Gupta, owner of an upmarket branded garment showroom, were kidnapped near Barachatti, Gaya, Uttar Pradesh, while travelling in a brand new Audi car which was stopped by men in police uniforms. The incident happened soon after 1:00pm on 1 May. The family have yet to receive a ransom call from the kidnappers. On 5 May, the police said they still had been unable to trace the whereabouts of the kidnapped couple but believe the crime was committed by the same inter-state gang that kidnapped Sohail Hingora, son of Hanif Hingora, a Surat-based textile magnet, in 2013. Sohail was kidnapped in Daman on 29 October 2013 and held captive in Saran, north Bihar, until his father reportedly paid a ransom of Rs.9 crore (USD1.45 million). The doctor and his wife were released on 6 May. Nine alleged kidnappers were arrested by the police including Ajay Kumar (55), the leader of the gang. He has been allegedly involved in at least four high profile kidnappings and has a degree in ancient history and once contested a national election as a Samajwadi Party candidate. The Bihar police chief said no ransom was paid but the couple were released when the gang realised then police were closing in.

5 May The body of Dr. RB Choudhary (52), a resident of Kashitoli village, Gumla, Jharkand, was recovered by police. The doctor had been kidnapped on 30 April from his private clinic at the Gumla District Hospital. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of Rs.50 lakh (USD80,250). After news of the murder was made public, more than 1,600 government doctors in 23 hospitals and 4,500 health centre workers went on strike. Since 2013, more than 400 government doctors have left government service citing poor security in extremist-affected areas.

6 May The police arrested four criminals from Mewat who lured businessmen to Delhi and other parts of the country by offering them lucrative deals before kidnapping them for ransom. The gang had kidnapped a London based businessman and one of his employees from Old Delhi Railway Station and demanded a ransom of Rs.1 crore (USD160,500). The kidnapping came to light when the businessman’s wife received a call from her father in law, who had remained in London, telling her about the kidnapping. He had received a call from an unknown man with the ransom demand. The police conducted raids in Mewat and Delhi and arrested one man and rescued the two victims. The businessman told police that 15 days earlier he had received a telephone call from a person who claimed to be a scrap dealer based in Delhi.

6 May A Marthanda Pillai, National President of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), and KK Aggarwal, Secretary General, expressed concern over recent kidnappings of doctors while addressing a press conference in New Delhi. They added that the IMA is preparing a draft bill proposing measures to prevent violence against medical practitioners and institutions for consideration by the government. Eighteen states have already passed ordinances on Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property against violence on doctors and medical establishments.

11 May Ghaziabad police found Adnan (4) and recovered Rs.14 lakh (USD22,480) that had been paid by the victim’s parents as a ransom. Adnan had disappeared from near his father’s shop in the Dasna Main Gate market at around 7:00pm on 5 May. The police arrested four men aged 25 years, a BCA student aged 22 years, 19 years and 18 years.

12 May Police officials said a special surveillance plan is being prepared for a 40 kilometre stretch of the National Highway-2 in Bihar, known as the “hijack zone” because it has become notorious for disappearances of loaded trucks and high profile people. The stretch, which is also called the “Bermuda Triangle” of Bihar, runs from Dobhi town to Barachatti block in Goya District. The police added that for every reported truck hijacking or kidnapping for ransom, three go unreported.

15 May Two traders, Akidul Islam (19) and Humayun, were kidnapped near Ghoramara Village in West Garo Hills while returning from Tura where they had gone to register their vehicle. The kidnappers contacted their families and demanded Rs.5 lakh (USD8,000) for their release but, after negotiations, reduced their demand to Rs.2 lakh (USD3,200). The families paid this on 18 May but the men were not released and the families were unable to recontact the kidnappers. A source in the Mankachar police said that this was the fourth case of kidnapping victims not being released after their family had paid the ransom. In addition, there were three cases of victims being killed after the payment.

Pakistan

6 May A “militant group” has demanded a ransom for the release of Ali Mohammad Din (20), a Libyan born German. The victim had arrived in Pakistan on 8 January to meet his uncle living in Thekariwala. On 7 February, he was allegedly kidnapped. The “militant group” claiming to be associated with Amarat-i-Islam, Afghanistan, called the family and said Ali had met them for Jihad and would soon join the Islamic State. The family denied he was interested in Jihad. The kidnappers also demanded the release of four of their members being held in jail.

12 May Officials at the Peshawar Central Police Office said that recorded incidents of kidnapping for ransom and extortion decreased during the first four months of 2015. During the current year, 19 cases of kidnapping have been recorded compared with 44 over the same period in 2014, showing a decrease of 57%. Recorded cases of extortion show 67 reported cases in 2015 compared to 106 cases in 2014, a decrease of 37%. The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) arrested 52 criminals who were involved in kidnapping for ransom. Of these, 28 belonged to militant groups such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Lashkar-e-Islam and Tehrik-e-Taliban Mohmand. The remaining 24 had links with other criminal groups. Militant groups involved with extortion are operating from Laylpura and Purchao areas in Afghanistan. Their way of operating is to call a target with a demand and then place an improvised explosive device (IED) in front of the target’s house or workplace to intimidate the target to pay the demand.

18 May In a report submitted to the interior ministry, Karachi police claimed there had been a significant reduction in the number of kidnapping and extortion cases since a special operation was launched in the city. The report stated that reported kidnapping incidents had reduced from 177 to 109.

24 May Ali Haider Gilani (29), the kidnapped son of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, called his father two years after he was kidnapped and said that he was well. He had been kidnapped on 9 May 2013 on the outskirts of Multan, Punjab Province, two days before the national election in which he was campaigning. Gunmen on a motorbike opened fire killing his secretary and bodyguard before forcing the victim into a black Honda car. The call lasted for eight minutes and among the dialogue made public was the victim saying he had been kept at a place where frequent drone attacks took place but has now been moved to a safer place in Afghanistan. The kidnappers are demanding the release of several al Qaeda militants being held in Pakistani prisons.

25 May A video posted online was purported to show Hong Xudong, a Chinese tourist, who was kidnapped in Daraban, northwest Pakistan, on 19 May 2014. Associated Press reported it had received the video from a militant known to be part of a Taliban militant splinter group called Jaish al Hadeed or the “Contingent of Steel”. The man in the video asks the Chinese government to meet the ransom demands but did not mention the amount. The Chinese authorities were working to authenticate the video.

FAR EAST

Hong Kong

1 May The kidnapping of Queenie Rosita Law (29), granddaughter of tycoon Law Ting-pong, an armed robbery and a spate of high profile burglaries at the homes of Hong Kong’s elite, have stirred concern in the city ranked as one of the safest in the world. Other victims of the latest crime wave have included the city’s top Indian and Australian diplomats, tycoon Cecil Chao and Li Ka-shing. In April, Hong Kong experienced its first armed robbery and shooting in more than a decade.

3 May Hong Kong police arrested Zheng Xinwang (29), one of six suspects who fled with millions of dollars in ransom money after the kidnapping of Queenie Rosita Law in April. The suspect was arrested at Lo Wu, a land checkpoint linking Hong Kong with China, as he tried to pass through the checkpoint. The new Hong Kong Police Commissioner, Stephen Lo Wai-chung, said the search for other suspects had been extended to mainland China. Sources reported that Queenie Rosita Law was held in a manmade hole that the kidnappers had dug at Fei Ngo Shan. She was blindfolded during her captivity. The police did not start their operation until it was confirmed the victim had been released and was safe.

On 4 May, police arrested six further suspects in various locations across Guangdong, all of those arrested were mainland China residents. Mainland police in cooperation with Hong Kong police are still looking for two key members of the gang who have evaded the dragnet. On 14 May the police said that a total of nine people had been arrested including the mastermind, a 39 year old surnamed You, but only HK$2.8 million (USD360,800) – in HK1,000 bundles - of the ransom payment had been recovered along with jewellery and watches that were stolen from the victim’s home. The police added that the gang had spent two weeks watching luxury homes on Clear Water Bay Road and Fei Ngo Shan.

Malaysia

13 May Selangor CID chief, Datuk Mohammed Adnan Abdullah, said that the police had arrested 18 people in several raids around the Klang Valley the previous night. Those arrested were members of an international kidnapping syndicate targeting Bangladeshi nationals. The operation was mounted as the result of a report of the kidnapping of a 32 year old Bangladeshi man who was working as a welder. Among those arrested were five Bangladeshis, four Malaysian men and one woman (who posed as a police officer), three Sri Lankans and five Indians.

14 May Thien Nyuk Fun (50), the restaurant manager and sister in law of the owner, Chung Yan Sim, and Bernard Then Ted Fen (36), an electronic consultant from Kuala Lumpur working in Cambodia who was a tourist and was sitting at the table closest to the sea, were kidnapped from Ocean King Seafood Restaurant on the seafront in Sandakan, Sabah, by four armed men who were wearing camouflaged army uniforms. There were about 100 customers in the restaurant at the time. The kidnappers climbed the stairs of the restaurant at approximately 8:00pm and kidnapped the two victims. The restaurant is located about three kilometres from Sandakan town and is a popular haunt for tourists and locals. The kidnappers used boats which were believed to have headed for the Philippines. On 16 May, the police said they were trying to verify a media report that stated that security forces had received a call from the kidnappers demanding a large ransom. As a result of the kidnapping, the 7:00pm to 5:00am sea curfew in six east coast districts has been extended to 2 June. On 17 May, Sabah Police Commissioner, Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman, said that the notorious Muktader brothers, Kadafi and Mindas , who are thought to be behind the kidnapping, may have had help from an employee of the restaurant. He also disclosed that the kidnappers had allowed the two victims to speak to their families. On 23 May, Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said that there had been three telephone calls from the kidnappers and, apart from the ransom demand, the group had asked for money to buy food and medicine for the two victims. He added that the medicine was for Thien Nyuk Fun who suffers from diabetes.

20 May In an address to city police at the Kuala Lumpur police chiefs’ monthly assembly, Tajuddin Mohammed Isa, Kuala Lumpur police chief, said a study showed that the Islamic State struggle had passed the first level of recruitment and training of new members and was now entering the second level to kidnap dignitaries for ransom and rob banks to finance their activities. The militants are also believed to be planning to attack police stations and army camps to obtain more weapons. On 26 April, the police had arrested 12 local men suspected of conspiring to launch an attack on strategic targets and government assets around Klang Valley. Bomb making equipment and firearms were also recovered.

24 May The East Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander, Abdul Rashid Harun, said that his forces had foiled six kidnappings before the recent incident at a Sandakan seaside restaurant. He did not give details but asked Sabah coastal residents to cooperate with security personnel to strengthen security in the region.

Philippines

4 May Two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel, Seaman First Class Rodlyn Pagaling, and Seaman Second Class Gringo Villaruz, together with Barangay Aligway chairman Rudy Baligao, were kidnapped at around 2:00am from the barangay hall in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte. Around 15 armed men wearing military and police uniforms arrived at the hall and kidnapped the three men and forced them to accompany them to board a motorised pump boat. This was the first kidnapping incident in Dapitan where two high-end resorts frequented by foreign and domestic tourists are located. It was alleged that the kidnappers were members of the Abu Sayyaf Group based in Sulu. A regional police spokesman said that, based on information the police have received, Abu Sayyaf is targeting foreigners specifically along coastal areas and in villages. There were also reports that Gemma Adana, who was kidnapped on 6 April from her home in Taytay Manubo village, has been handed over to Abu Sayyaf who is demanding P100 million (USD22.4 million) for her release.

4 May Tawi-Tawi Police Director Joselito Salido said that Nonong Garvia, a mining firm finance officer, had been kidnapped at around 11:00pm by four gunmen from the Beach Side Inn, Sumandagit, Bongoa. The kidnappers dragged the victim to the beach and forced him to board a motorised banca and then sped off towards Languyan town.

5 May The father of architect Raulito Suyom Jr., said he, along with his three friends, Jason Cababayo, Francis Wong and Rho Steven, had been released by their kidnappers on 28 April. The four men had been kidnapped near Shariff town, Magindanao, on 29 March. He added the news of their release had not been announced immediately for “security reasons” but had come following a series of negotiations with the kidnappers that eventually led to a ransom payment. He declined to give details of the ransom but said “it was a minimal amount”.

7 May The Acting Director of Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) said that an alleged leader of a kidnapping gang, Natad, was killed during a shoot out when the police went to his safe house to serve a warrant for his arrest. He resisted and shooting broke out. Natad was the leader of the Natad robbery and hold up gang and was listed as one of the Most Wanted Persons of AKG this year. He was involved in the kidnapping and killing of a Korean in Manila on 3 March 2014.

8 May Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City Police Director, said he believed that the recent increase in kidnapping incidents in the Zamboanga peninsula and the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi could be linked to the forthcoming elections. He said he had learned from experience while working for the Philippine Anti-Organised Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) that some dubious individuals use kidnapping as a source of money to secure a political seat in the elections.

11 May A military spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command said that retired Master Sergeant Renato Fernandez of the Philippine Marines had been released by his kidnappers in Barangay Asturias, Jolo town, late on 8 May. The victim had been kidnapped on 5 April from his boat while he was transporting 40 passengers off Patukunan Island by seven gunmen suspected to be members of the al Qaeda linked group, Abu Sayyaf. His wife told the authorities that as the boat left Jolo pier, three “passengers” drew high powered firearms and told him he was the subject of a kidnapping. Two dinghies with four armed men approached the boat and he was transferred to one of the dinghies. It is not known if a ransom was paid.

13 May A speaker at the Asia CEO Forum said that Asia is now the top area for kidnap and ransom and extortion having replaced Latin America. This is primary due to the number of kidnappings in India and the Philippines who, together with Pakistan and Bangladesh, account for about 74% of the reported kidnapping cases in Asia. The Philippines is also considered the highest ranking country for the kidnapping of Chinese nationals. On 14 September 2014, the Philippines National Police released figures showing that from January to August 2014, Chinese or Hong Kong citizens accounted for 17 of the 51 individuals who had been kidnapped. In Metro-Manila, seven out of ten kidnap victims are Chinese-Filipinos.

14 May According to a report from Colonel Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, Reynadith Bagonoc-Silvano (31), a teacher, had been released by his kidnappers. She was kidnapped along with her brother, Russel Bagonoc (21), on 5 March in Zamboanga Sibugay and the passed on to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). The Colonel said he had no information if the family paid a ransom for the teacher’s release.

16 May The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reported that Alirazul Manonggiring (22) had been released by his kidnappers late the previous evening in Gingoog City, Nisamis Oriental. The victim had been kidnapped on 29 April 2015. The NBI Iligan District Office chief, Alex Carbonay, said that no ransom had been paid but the release was due to pressure by the authorities who had learned of the whereabouts of the victim from four hardcore members of another kidnapping for ransom group. He identified the kidnappers as the Binlatang kidnap for ransom group.

21 May Mindas Manda, aka Muktader, a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group and a kidnap for ransom group operating in Tawi-Tawi, was killed during a shootout with police when he refused to surrender on being challenged by police near the wet market in Barangay Walled City in Jolo. Armed with a rifle, he ran towards Muralla Street where he was shot dead. Manda was allegedly involved in a series of kidnapping incidents involving Malaysian victims.

26 May Al Qaeda linked group, Abu Sayyaf, released the seven year old son of a policeman they had kidnapped and held as a hostage for three months on Sulu island in Mindanao. Two motorcyclists brought the boy to an uncle’s house in Jolo, Sulu. The boy had been kidnapped on his way to school on 10 March as a form of “revenge”. His father had shot and killed a member of Abu Sayyaf earlier this year.

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