Displaying items by tag: kidnapping
The Nigerian government is about to pass a bill that will punish those who pay ransoms with up to fifteen years in prison. It would also give a death sentence to those who commit abductions. Armed groups have kidnapped hundreds of people for ransom across Nigeria over the last two years. Most recently, a ransom of $240,000 was paid by the Nigerian Methodist Church after eight gunmen abducted its head, His Eminence Samuel Kanu, and two other pastors while they were on their way to the airport in Nigeria’s southeastern state of Abia. The clergymen’s driver and one other church member managed to escape. The 69-year-old recounted how the abductors showed them the rotted bodies of previous victims, threatening to do the same with him. Archbishop Chibuzo Opoko, who heads the Methodist church in Abia State, said paying the ransom was necessary.
At least eight Westerners have been arrested in Afghanistan during different incidents in the last two months, marking a sharp escalation of Taliban actions against Westerners living in the country. No formal charges have been lodged against the six British citizens, one of whom is an American legal resident, and one US citizen. Afghanistan’s former vice-president tweeted that nine Westerners had been ‘kidnapped’ by the Taliban, naming journalists Andrew North, formerly of the BBC who was working for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), and Peter Jouvenal, who has worked with the BBC and CNN. The reason for each of the specific detentions is unclear, and they are not thought to be related. Peter's family believe he is detained in error. He was working openly, having frequent meetings with Taliban officials to discuss investments in Afghanistan's mining industry. Peter suffers from high blood pressure and needs medication.
Kidnappings for ransom have surged as gangs gain influence amid a political crisis. Seven Catholic clergy, five Haitian and two French, have been kidnapped. The five priests and two nuns were abducted in a commune northeast of Port-au-Prince, while they were on their way to the installation of a new parish priest. The kidnappers demanded $1m ransom for them. The Haitian Conference of Believers said three other people had been kidnapped at the same time. Authorities suspect an armed gang called ‘400 Mawozo’ which kidnaps for ransom. Armed gangs have increased as the nation is rocked by political unrest. Gang violence and political instability has drawn protesters onto the streets at the subhuman situation where the political leaders cling to power, but are increasingly powerless.
Eight Christians have been abducted while on their way to evangelise in Kaduna state. The group of members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God were travelling towards the town of Kafanchan when gunmen intercepted the bus, according to International Christian Concern and the Nigerian Tribune. Eje Kenny Faraday, a witness, posted a picture on Facebook showing the empty bus saying, ‘All passengers in the bus are just kidnapped along Kachia Road, Km 63 from Kaduna.’ The kidnappers have demanded the equivalent of £88,000 for their release. A search for the members has been launched by security agencies including the police and the military.
The 2014 kidnap of 276 Chibok schoolgirls brought global attention to raids on schools in Nigeria. Now criminals are making money with copycat crimes. Nearly 300 girls were kidnapped from a boarding school last week, then released four days later after a ransom was paid. One girl said, ‘Most of us got injured, and we could not carry on walking. They said they would shoot anybody who did not continue walking. We walked across a river and they let us sleep under shrubs in a forest.’ Their release was secured through negotiations between government officials and the abductors. Kidnapping for ransom is a widespread criminal enterprise. Both rich and poor are seized by gunmen on almost a daily basis. Security personnel have also been held. The aim is to secure someone's release by raising funds from friends and relatives - or even selling their assets.
Release International is pressing Malaysia to set free a Christian pastor who was abducted in a military-style operation by fifteen men in balaclavas three years ago. His wife Susannah said, ‘There was an eye-witness to the scene. He thought it was a movie production. My children went door-to-door and found CCTV footage of the entire incident. It was a very military-style operation, well-organised, and done in about forty seconds. Last year, an officer confessed that the abduction was done by the police.’ In 2019, Malaysia’s human rights commission accused the Special Branch of carrying out two abductions - Pastor Koh and a social activist. Both were boxed in by vehicles in similar snatch operations, and have disappeared. Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth also went missing in 2016. Pastor Koh ran Hope Community, an organisation in Kuala Lumpur helping the poorest members of society. See
Insecurity in some parts of the country has led people to form their own vigilante units. A reporter writes, ‘Last week, I helped pay a ransom to free the kidnapped wife and two daughters of a friend; they had been held for eight days after being snatched from their home in the northern city of Kaduna. What I did is no longer unusual, and is one of the many stories resulting from insecurity in this vast country. The government is accused of ineffectiveness, and the governors of six states in the south-west of the country have come up with their own plan to set up a security outfit called amotekun (leopard). It will involve employing new security personnel, with the power to arrest and share intelligence and security infrastructure across the states. The plan has riled the national authorities, and led some to accuse the six states of plotting to secede from Nigeria.
President Buhari said that the independent National Electoral Commission has questions to answer over the postponement of the general election to 23 February. He warned those planning to snatch ballot boxes that they will pay with their life. Open Doors said, ‘For Nigerian Christians, elections draw attention to a long-term crisis and can intensify attacks on them. Christians are fearful because they have been targeted so often.’ The most recent was when Pastor Jatau’s car was ambushed and he and his family were dragged away. His body was found two days later but his wife, three children, and two sisters-in-law are missing. Kidnappers are demanding a ransom for the family. They were travelling to take up a new ministry when they were attacked. See
In 2017 Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in a professional attack caught on CCTV. He has not been seen since. Open Doors has urged the government to throw its weight behind locating him and three others who disappeared around the same time. They said, ‘The facts of this case are utterly outrageous. We urge the new government to expose the truth behind these abductions, and root out the corruption which allegedly led to their disappearance.’ A whistle-blower said Raymond had been targeted for having a minority faith, and his abduction was carried out with the approval of the then inspector general of police. A human rights commission investigation into his disappearance ended in December 2018, with a response expected in March 2019.
On 19 January, in Myanmar, Pastor Tun was kidnapped with several others and held captive by a group of Buddhist militants. He is believed to be dead, but Barnabas’ contacts in the region say that his body has not yet been found. Pastor Tun was a spokesman for his village, and his missionary work made him a target by the ‘truly brutal’ group. Concerns are mounting that more abductions of Christians are likely.