ASIA

Afghanistan

1 October The National Directorate of Security (NDS) released a statement which said that agents had arrested four people, including a woman, in connection with the kidnapping of Shafiullah, a 4 year old boy. The victim was kidnapped in Lashkargah city and the kidnappers contacted his family demanding a ransom of USD25,000 for his release. The NDS agents mounted an entrapment operation at the payment location, arrested the four suspects and rescued the victim.

23 October The National Directorate of Security (NDS) issued a statement which said agents had arrested at least 21 individuals involved in major kidnappings in Kabul. The individuals were part of seven different groups led by Hasibullah, Nangialal, Ali Ahmad, Elias, Syed Ashraf and Mirwais. The Hasibullah group were involved in the kidnapping of an owner of a money exchange bureau in Kabul and were demanding USD6 million for his release. Businessman Haji Rozuddin was kidnapped by the group, led by Nangialal from Pul-e-Charkhi, and a ransom demand of USD600,000 was made. Ali Ahmad kidnapped a child and demanded a ransom of AFN600,000 (USD12,000). Syed Ashraf, a former police official, was demanding a ransom of USD153,000 for the release of a man.

27 October The National Directorate of Security (NDS) recued Rafiullah, son of Faqir Mohammed, after he had been kidnapped by two men in Balkh province. The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of AFN6 million (USD120,000).

India

5 October Eight Assam based traders were released in the morning after being kidnapped on 29 September near the village of Songotagre as they were travelling to the weekly market at Sikigre. Nine traders were in a pick-up van when ASAK militants stopped the van at gunpoint at about 5:30am. One of the traders managed to escape. While the reason for their release is unclear, the police suspect that a ransom could have been paid.

9 October The Delhi police reported that four suspected kidnappers had been arrested the previous day for allegedly kidnapping the 21 year old son of former Dwarka Councillor, Shambunath Sharma, on 27 September. The victim had been released on 4 October after the family paid a ransom. Two men on motorbikes, posing as traffic policemen, stopped the victim as he was driving to college, held him at gunpoint and drove off in a Scorpio car that had been following the motorbikes, to an undisclosed destination taking the victim’s car with them. They later called the victim’s father and demanded a ransom of Rs.50 crore (USD9.89 million), the highest ever ransom demand in Delhi. After negotiations, the kidnappers agreed to an “immediate ransom” payment of Rs.1 crore (USD197,800). The caller kept moving between Gurgaon, Bahadurgah and Faridabad to avoid being detected. The police conducted a number of raids after the victim’s release and recovered the victim’s car, some police uniforms and a number of mobile telephones.

21 October Suresh Sharma (43) and Kapil Sharma (27), sons of Babulal Sharma the Delhi based owner of Shrutiyan Construction Limited, were kidnapped when they arrived at Patna Airport to take part in a construction tender. The brothers were met at the airport by an acquaintance and were travelling with him by road to Munger when one of them called their father to say they had been kidnapped. After the call, there was no further contact with the brothers. Both the family and police said that there had not been a ransom demand although a criminal gang operating from the Gomati Nagar area of Lucknow and which has kidnapped travellers from outside the airport in the past, was being sought by the police. On 23 October, police sources said that the kidnappers had contacted the victims’ father and demanded a ransom of RS.4 crore (USD597,000). On 26 October, in a combined operation involving the Delhi and Bihar Police Forces, the two brothers were rescued from Shringirishi Dham, Mahua Kol, Kajra, a hilly area some 140 kilometres southeast of Patna from where they were originally kidnapped. After raiding a number of houses in Barh, Bakhatiyarpur, Mokama and Fahtua the police examined mobile data records and traced the last call to Munger district and, as a result, they mounted the rescue operation. Five suspects were arrested in Bihar and Delhi in separate police raids. The two victims told family members that they had been held by Maoists.

24 October Delhi Police said they had arrested five people during a raid at Hardoi District, Uttar Pradesh, in connection with the kidnapping of Abhishek Khetrapal (23), a bridal artist and Bhoipuri actor from Uttar Pradesh, who was rescued. The victim was kidnapped at gunpoint from outside the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mahipalpur on 20 October after he was called by the kidnappers ostensibly for a bridal make-up assignment. The kidnappers called the victim’s family from Kanpur 22 hours after the kidnapping and demanded a ransom of Rs.2 crore (USD298,500). Using a different SIM card, they called again on 23 October from Hardoi. The police identified the exact location of the kidnappers and mounted a raid late that night. The kidnappers told the police that one of their members worked in the victim’s family business and knew they were financially strong. When rescued, the victim was tied to a cot and was unconscious. The kidnappers had constantly injected a tranquiliser into the victim to keep him unconscious.

28 October Nine traders from Mankacher, Assam, were kidnapped at around 8:00am near Chokpot by six ASAK rebels as they travelled in a minivan to the weekly market at Dumnikura in South Garo Hills. The rebels initially kidnapped 10 traders but let one go as he was a small-time trader and would not have been able to pay a ransom.

FAR EAST

Malaysia

1 October Sabah police confirmed that Ruslan Nasir Sarapin (39), owner of a fishing boat, had been released by his kidnappers. The victim was kidnapped on 27 September in the waters off Semporna when gunmen stormed the fishing boat at about 9:30pm. Of the 27 people on board, the victim was the only one who had a Malaysian identity card. It was unclear how the victim was rescued.

2 October General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, Chief of Armed Forces, agree with the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister on 28 September that there was a possible leak of classified intelligence that helped kidnappers select their targets. He said: “They seem to know where to show up and where to target, like the most recent one last Thursday”. The armed forces are investigating a possible leak. On 7 October, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said that the security forces had arrested more than ten people suspected of being informers for the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other kidnapping for ransom groups, in a special operation in Sabah that was still ongoing. He identified those who had been arrested as local civilians and immigrants from the southern Philippines. The suspects are believed to have been feeding information about security forces’ operations and movements to the rebels and criminal groups. He did not deny the possibility that some of those arrested were security personnel.

4 October The Penang Police Deputy Commissioner provided reporters with details of the kidnapping of a 60 year old money changer who was kidnapped on 28 September at around 10:30am as he left his home in Bukit Jambul. The kidnappers forced him into a van and took him to an apartment in Bayan Lepas where he was held. The victim called his family and said the kidnappers were demanding RM3 million (USD742,600) for his release. While the family was negotiating the ransom with the kidnappers, on 2 October the police arrested one of the suspects at around 11:30pm who led them to the apartment where the victim was being held captive. He was bound and blindfolded but unharmed. Eight further suspects aged 23 to 38, including a woman, were subsequently arrested. The Deputy Commissioner confirmed that the ransom had not been paid before the police rescued the victim. He added that the kidnapping had been well planned since the beginning of September and every member of the gang had their own role to play. The gang had trailed the victim for three days before kidnapping him.

8 October Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun commended the efforts of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) in thwarting kidnapping attempts. He did not provide details but said that security agencies being stationed in the waters off the east coast had proved a good preventative measure. He added: “There were several (foiled kidnapping) cases and, if I am not mistaken, the last one was just a few days ago”.

10 October The Sabah Commissioner of Police said that the curfew over the waters of Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran districts was being extended until 26 October. He added the extension of the curfew, which covers the hours from 7:00pm to 5:00am, was necessary to ensure that the waters were not encroached by terrorists.

19 October Family members of the sailors kidnapped in the Dent Heaven waters off Lahad Datu on 17 July by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG,) appealed to the government and public to help them to raise funds towards the ransom demand of RM2 million (USD495,000). They launched a fund with its theme “Mereka Diseksa, Kaml Sengsara, Bantulah Kami” (they are tortured, We suffer, Help us). A spokesperson for the families said they had so far raised RM3,670 (USD900) and the deadline given by the ASG had passed. The last contact with the ASG was at 4:10pm on 12 October when they demanded RM2 million to be paid within 4 days.

Philippines

1 October In a press release, the 73rd Infantry Neutraliser Battalion said that members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were still engaging in extortion and kidnapping of residents in Sarangan province and Davao Occidental despite the indefinite ceasefire agreement signed by the National Democratic Front (NDF) last August in Norway. The release added that several incidents had been reported in barangays in the province and asked the rebels to stop kidnapping and extortion as it would put the spirit of the ceasefire in jeopardy. NPA has allegedly been inviting small businessmen and store owners to meet in the guise of dialogue only to demand cash from them.

2 October Officials said that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) had handed over three kidnapped Indonesians to a major rebel group on Jolo Island who, in turn, released the three to the authorities. The three victims, Ferry Arifin, Edi Suryono and Muhamad Mabrur Dahri, were part of a group of sailors kidnapped by ASG in June. This release was the latest one negotiated by Nur Misuari, an elder Muslim rebel leader with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The terms of the release were not disclosed but ASG normally release kidnap victims after a large ransom has been paid.

4 October A spokesman for the anti-terror Task Force, Sulu, said that testimonies by released Indonesian kidnapping victims had included statements that they had witnessed members of ASG taking drugs, particularly crystalline methamphetamine or “shabu”. Herman Bin Manggak, a crewman of a tugboat who was released in September in Sulu after being kidnapped along with six compatriots in June by ASG, said his kidnappers were regularly taking “shabu” as they were guarding him and other captives.

7 October Abdul-latip Suwaling Talanghari (64), aka “Tatang” (“father”), a leader of the al Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), was arrested along with another suspect, Albasitre Talanghari, by the security forces during a raid on their safehouse in a village in Zamboanga City late in the night. The Regional Police Chief said that Talanghari has been wanted for a long time for his alleged involvement in the kidnap for ransom of 19 foreigners and two Filipinos from a smart resort in Sabah, Malaysia, in 2000. The victims were brought to Sulu.

16 October President Duterte ordered the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to crush sea pirates and other lawless elements that resist arrest during operations in the country’s territorial waters. He said the PCG should subdue the pirates or even sink their ships to make navigation and marine resources safe.

17 October General Ricardo Visaya, Commander of the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP), said that a total of 94 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members had been killed, wounded, arrested or surrendered and 14 hostages freed during President Duterte’s first 100 days in power. He added that 12 hostages remain in the hands of ASG. According to the military: “Key ASG leaders Nelson Muktadil, Braun Muktadil and sub-leader Mohammad Said were among the terrorists killed and bodies recovered. At least three other ASG leaders have also been killed but were not identified by name because their bodies were dragged away by their retreating comrades”.

21 October A spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command said in a statement that a South Korean-flagged cargo ship had been hijacked by 10 men in a speedboat off Tawi-Tawi. The pirates, thought to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) under Jul Hassan and Idang Susukan, kidnapped the South Korean captain and a Filipino crew member. This particular ASG gang has been linked to the beheading of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then after his family failed to pay a ransom in November 2015.

27 October A confidential government report said that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) had received at least 353 million pesos (USD7.3 million) from ransoms in the first six months of 2016 from six kidnappings of 21 people. The majority of the money came from the ransom payments for the releases of 14 Indonesian and 4 Malaysian crewmen who had been held by ASG in jungle bases in Sulu province. ASG also received 20 million pesos (USD413,000) in ransom for freeing Marites Flor, a Filipino woman who was kidnapped in 2015 along with two Canadians and a Norwegian, from Samal Island. Government officials said they were unaware of any ransom paid for Flor and the other hostages and added they continue to adopt a no ransom policy. The report concluded that ASG had switched to kidnapping foreign crew members as a result of military offensives restricting their mobility.

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