Category Archives: Kidnap and Ransom

Serbian Embassy workers abducted during attack on ambassador’s convoy in Libya

Libyan policemen stand guard at a checkpoint in Sabratha, Libya. (Mohamed Ben Khalifa / AP Photo)
Libyan policemen stand guard at a checkpoint in Sabratha, Libya. (Mohamed Ben Khalifa / AP Photo)

BELGRADE, Serbia — Gunmen in Libya crashed into a convoy of vehicles taking Serbia’s ambassador to neighbouring Tunisia and then kidnapped two other embassy employees, officials said.

The embassy’s communications officer, Sladjana Stankovic, and driver Jovica Stepic, were kidnapped in the northwest coastal town of Sabratha, Serbia’s Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry is “doing all it can to get more information and secure the return of our citizens in a very complicated situation on the ground,” a statement said.

Ambassador Oliver Potezica, who escaped unharmed and was travelling in the three-vehicle convoy with his wife and two sons aged 8 and 14, later recounted the attack.

“It happened like in a movie,” Potezica told Tanjug news agency from Tunisia. “The attack happened when one of the embassy cars was hit from behind. When the driver came out to check what happened, he was dragged into one of the attackers’ cars.”

One of the Libyan security officers travelling with the convoy was wounded when hit by a spray of gunfire during the attack and taken to a hospital, the ambassador said.

The kidnapping “looked more like a criminal than a political act,” Potezica said.

In Libya, a member of Sabratha’s council said that the convoy had stopped at a motel on their way to Tunisia and then resumed their journey.

“They were ambushed by an armed group, and the vehicle carrying the ambassador and his wife managed to escape the ambush, but the group managed to stop the vehicle behind it, which had two embassy staff,” council member Abdulghassim Krair said.

Military forces safely escorted the rest of the convoy to the Tunisian border, Krair said.

“We assured them that we will do our best to find the perpetrators and rescue the employees,” he said.

Krair added that the embassy hadn’t notified local authorities in advance about the trip, saying “it’s not safe to travel through the area unguarded.”

The motel was on the main road leading to Tunisia and close to the Mediterranean Sea in an area beset by smugglers and rouge militias. A number of kidnappings have

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Kidnapped Mexican Legislator Recused By Police.

Police in the Mexican state of Morelos have rescued a state legislator one day after he was kidnapped.

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Mexican legislator rescued from kidnappers

Police in the Mexican state of Morelos have rescued a state legislator one day after he was kidnapped.

Morelos Gov. Graco Ramirez announced the rescue Thursday morning through his Twitter account. He also distributed a photograph of state Deputy David Martinez tied at the wrists and ankles at the time of his rescue.

Martinez was seized Wednesday outside his home. The Democratic Revolution Party politician and candidate for mayor of the city of Temixco was found by police before dawn on Thursday.

State security secretary Alberto Capella said in a television interview that eight people were arrested.

He noted that Martinez had dined with the governor the night before his kidnapping and suggested the kidnapping was politically motivated. He said the kidnappers had ties to the Guerreros Unidos gang.

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Jordan’s Ambassador Kidnapped from Vehicle in Libya

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — Jordan’s ambassador to Libya was kidnapped Tuesday in central Tripoli, the foreign ministries of both nations said.

Ambassador Fawaz al-Aytan and members of his security detail were abducted and his driver was injured, Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said. Libyan state news agency LANA reported the driver, a Moroccan national, was shot during the kidnapping.

A spokesman for the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said masked gunmen in two vehicles ambushed the ambassador’s convoy and whisked away al-Aytan.

A diplomatic source said the motive appeared to be to swap the ambassador for the release of a Libyan from a Jordanian jail.

The prime ministers and foreign ministers of Jordan and Libya discussed the situation in phone calls on Tuesday, LANA and Jordan’s state news agency Petra reported.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said the kidnappers had not contacted his government, but he held them responsible for the safety of the ambassador.

“Through our permanent mission in New York, we have asked the U.N. Security Council to issue a statement condemning this unacceptable act that targeted Jordan and its diplomatic representation in Libya,” Judeh told Petra.

In a separate incident, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli said Tuesday one of its locally hired employees was abducted. Later, a senior Obama administration official said the woman, who worked for the embassy as a bodyguard, had been located.

There appeared to be no connection to the embassy, and the incident occurred after business hours when the woman was with her boyfriend in his car, another senior administration official said.

The woman escaped, flagged down a truck and was taken to a hospital, where the ambassador met with her, the official said.

A diplomatic source earlier told CNN the employee was believed to have disappeared Monday night at a checkpoint.

After the Jordanian ambassador was abducted, Jordan’s national airlines, Royal Jordanian, canceled its daily flight to Tripoli.

“Royal Jordanian is closely monitoring the situation in Libya following news that Jordan’s ambassador to Libya … was kidnapped Tuesday morning. The airline will take the appropriate decision in regard to its operations to Libya,” the airline said on its website.

Royal Jordanian runs 10 flights a week to Tripoli, four to Benghazi and two to Misrata.

Militia groups have routinely targeted and intimidated officials in the fractured nation.

On Sunday, Libya’s newly appointed Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni stepped down after he and his family were attacked.

Al-Thinni was with his family when his convoy came under attack by militia members near where he lives in Tripoli, a neighborhood resident told CNN.

After they escaped and entered the neighborhood near Tripoli’s airport road, heavy gunfire erupted in the area.

Al-Thinni said he and Cabinet members will continue their work as a caretaker government until a new prime minister is chosen by the General National Congress, the country’s interim parliament.

In October of last year, the country’s former prime minister, Ali Zeidan, was kidnapped briefly by a militia in the capital.

So far this year, Egyptian diplomats, a South Korean official and a Tunisian Embassy employee have been kidnapped and later released in Tripoli.

Al-Aytan is the highest level diplomat to have been kidnapped in Libya since the 2011 revolution.

Diplomatic missions have been targeted in attacks both in Tripoli and Libya’s second city Benghazi, leading all western countries to shut down their Benghazi consulates.

On September 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.

In June of that year, the convoy of former British Ambassador Dominic Asquith was targeted in an attack in Benghazi that injured two British guards.

Security in Libya has deteriorated since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Government forces have been unable to rein in the hundreds of militia groups, which have competing interests, ideologies and agendas.
Embassy of Jordan

Rebels Kidnap Libya’s Prime Minister

Gunmen from a former rebel faction kidnapped Libya’s prime minister on Thursday in reprisal for the government’s role in the U.S. capture of a top al Qaeda suspect.

Two years after a revolution ended the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is in turmoil, with its vulnerable central government and nascent armed forces struggling to contain rival tribal militias and Islamist militants who control parts of the country.

The militia, which had been hired by the government to provide security in Tripoli, said it “arrested” Ali Zeidan after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed Libya’s role in the weekend capture in the city of Abu Anas al-Liby.

“His arrest comes after … (Kerry) said the Libyan government was aware of the operation,” a spokesman for the group, known as the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, told Reuters.

Zeidan is in “good health and will be treated well as a Libyan citizen,” and is being held at the Interior Ministry’s anti-crime department, an official with the department told the state news agency.

The Libyan government in a statement confirmed the premier was taken at dawn to “an unknown place for unknown reasons.”

The prime minister was taken from the Corinthia Hotel, where many diplomats and top government officials live. It is regarded as one of the most secure places in Tripoli.

The kidnapping raises the stakes in the unruly OPEC nation, where the regional factions are also seeking control over its oil wealth, which provides Libya with the vast bulk of government revenues.

Brent oil prices rose on the news.

“Everybody is watching this… We still haven’t seen any disruption to supply from Libya, so we don’t expect a spike in prices,” said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan.

A mix of striking workers, militias and political activists have blocked Libya’s oilfields and ports for more than two months, according to Oil Minister Abdelbari Arusi, resulting in over $5 billion of lost revenues.

He said on October 2 that oil exports could return to full capacity in days once the strikes ended.

Repsol and Eni, involved in western Libya, have seen output largely restored since fields reopened last month. But companies invested in eastern Libya are entering a third month of closures at several important export terminals.

Oil companies have become more wary of North Africa after an attack in January on the Amenas gas plant in neighboring Algeria, a top gas supplier to Europe and an oil-producing OPEC member.

UNKNOWN LOCATION

U.S. special forces on Saturday seized Nazih al-Ragye, known by his alias Abu Anas al-Liby – a Libyan suspected in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Liby is being held on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea.

The U.S. State Department was looking into the reports of Zeidan’s kidnapping and was “in close touch with senior U.S. and Libyan officials on the ground,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Brunei, where Kerry is on an official visit.

The Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries had been affiliated with the Interior Ministry which assigned them to provide security in the capital as part of a program to reintegrate former fighters.

Guards at the Hotel said there were no shots fired or clashes during the incident.

Al-Arabiya television channel quoted Libya’s justice minister as saying that Zeidan had been “kidnapped” and showed what it said were video stills of Zeidan frowning and wearing a grey shirt undone at the collar surrounded by several men in civilian clothes pressing closely around him.

Zeidan said on Tuesday Libyans accused of crimes should be tried at home, but that the raid to capture Liby would not harm U.S. ties – trying preserve relations with a major ally without provoking a backlash from Islamist militants.

But the raid angered militant groups, including one blamed for the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012, who called for revenge attacks on strategic targets including gas export pipelines, planes and ships, as well as for the kidnappings of Americans in the capital.

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Dallas Mining Company Executives Found Dead in Rio Santa Rio

Image Two men, reportedly the CEO and CFO of U.S.-based exploration firm Southridge Minerals found dead.

 
According to several local media outlets, their bodies were found dead floating down Rio Santa Rosa river by local farmers, on the border between the municipalities of Ixtlan del Rio, Nayarit and Hostotipaquillo, Jalisco., local press reports
 
The bodies, corresponding to two men in their late 30s, were found by farmers of Ixtlan del Rio who were working their land near Hostotipaquillo, Jalisco. They also recovered a briefcase with documents revealing the names of Michel Davies and Derald Johnston, which are the names of Southridge Minerals’s CEO and CFO. The farmers said however, were forensic experts of Nayarit took bodies because they were in state territory.
 
The company has been involved in a recent controversy over its rights over the Cinco Minas project. The conflict worsened early this month, after a Canadian junior released an independent report revealing that Southridge’s Cinco Minas property has been non-operational for the past several years.
 
 
On February 5, Bandera Gold CEO Stephen Roehrig  released a statement claiming  “press releases issued by Southridge Enterprises, Inc. (‘SRGE’ or ‘Southridge’) contain false and misleading statements about current mining activity and SRGE’s alleged ownership of the Cinco Minas project.”This followed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s announcement on December 28 that it had “temporarily suspended trading in the securities of Southridge because of questions regarding the accuracy of statements made by Southridge in press releases to investors concerning, among other things, the company’s business operations and arrangements.
 

Despite the U.S. company allegedly claiming the contrary, Canada’s Bandera Gold (TSXV:BGL) published a detailed report with photos and videos showing evidence the site and machinery have been “completely non-operational for some time.”

 
The Dallas-based firm, however, says in its website that it paid $7.5 million for exclusive concessions to mine the Cinco Minas and Gran Cabrera sites respectively located 100 and 135 kilometers northwest of Guadalajara in 2010. This fact is disputed by Bandera Gold, which claims ownership of both mines and displays the concession certificates on its website.
 
Sources: Mining.com, Periodico Express, Afmedios, Tequila Files, Photo: Cinco Minas

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Americans Shot in Mexico Were C.I.A. Operatives Aiding in Drug War

We waited to post anything about this story until more details came out. But it appears to be what we suspected.. Another Star on the wall in Langley…
This Article is from the New York Times Published August 28th, 2012
By and
MEXICO CITY — The two Americans who were wounded when gunmen fired on an American Embassy vehicle last week were Central Intelligence Agency employees sent as part of a multiagency effort to bolster Mexican efforts to fight drug traffickers, officials said on Tuesday.

The two operatives, who were hurt on Friday, were participating in a training program that involved the Mexican Navy. They were traveling with a Mexican Navy captain in an embassy sport utility vehicle that had diplomatic license plates, heading toward a military shooting range 35 miles south of the capital when gunmen, some or all of them from the Federal Police, attacked the vehicle, Mexican officials have said.

The Mexican Navy said Tuesday in a statement that an American was driving the vehicle and that during the attack the captain, who was handling logistics and translating for the men, remained in the back seat calling

for help on his cellphone.

The men were wounded, the Navy said, when the rain of bullets managed to tear through the car’s protective armor. It was unclear if the Americans, who officials said were unarmed, were specifically targeted, if the shooting was a case of mistaken identity or if there was some other reason that the vehicle was ambushed. Mexican prosecutors have detained 12 federal police officers and have said no theory can be ruled out.

The C.I.A. declined to comment. But American officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information, said no evidence had emerged so far that the Americans were targeted because of their affiliation.

American investigators are working with Mexican authorities to determine what happened and whether the police officers involved were corrupt.

The notion that a squad of federal police officers would attack an embassy car could be another blow to the developing trust and cooperation between American counternarcotics personnel and their Mexican partners.

Through programs like the $1.6-billion Merida Initiative, the United States has spent millions of dollars on training and equipping the federal police.

Eric Olson, an expert at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute in Washington, said the shooting could only sow some doubts about the police, and at best pointed to a lack of communication among Mexico’s military and the police.

“This seems to suggest there isn’t better communication between the various elements of the Mexican government,” he said. “One fundamental issue is the lack of trust.”

In his first public comments on the shooting, President Felipe Calderón, speaking Tuesday at a security forum attended by the American ambassador, Anthony Wayne, promised a thorough investigation.

“Be it from negligence, lack of training, lack of trust, complicity, these acts cannot be permitted and they are being investigated absolutely rigorously,” Mr. Calderón said.

The presence of C.I.A. employees, and indeed all American operatives, on Mexican soil has long been a prickly subject here.

In his nearly six years in office, Mr. Calderón has allowed a much larger role for American counternarcotics operations, including the use of unarmed American drones deep in Mexican territory. C.I.A. operatives and retired American military personnel have also worked with American law enforcement agencies and the Mexican military on training and intelligence-gathering.But Mexico has ruled out allowing the Americans to carry out arrests or deploy troops on its soil, and even their limited role has provoked a political outcry over whether the nation’s sovereignty has been put in jeopardy.

Lawmakers, instigated by the left, have hauled Mexican government officials before Congress for sometimes testy hearings and after the newspaper La Jornada first reported the C.I.A. involvement on Tuesday, some politicians said they would ask for a thorough explanation of the American role here.

“It’s is time to speak clearly and for us to know what institutions are intervening in what specific way in our country in regard to security,’ said Iris Vianey Mendoza, a senator from the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution.

The office of Enrique Peña-Nieto, who won Mexico’s presidential election in July and has promised to maintain close ties with American law enforcement agencies, declined to comment.

The shooting was reminiscent of an attack on American immigration and customs agents last year in which one was fatally shot and another wounded when their embassy sport utility vehicle was ambushed on a highway north of Mexico City. A Mexican man was extradited and is awaiting trial on murder charges in Washington.

This latest episode has caused Mexicans to reflect on the quality of the federal police force, which had achieved growing respect but which has been tarnished by recent corruption scandals.

“The thing that really worries me,” said Gabriel Guerra, a political analyst who has worked with the three major parties here, “is that we are seeing the unraveling of what was supposed to be the main achievement in the fight against organized crime, which was the creation of a trustworthy national police.”

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Randal C. Archbold reported from Mexico City and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Karla Zabludovsky contributed from Mexico City.

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Search for Four Kidnapped Foreigners Oil Workers Continues after Suspected Pirate Attack

Nigerian security agencies have stepped up efforts to trace the four foreigners who were kidnapped when an oil company vessel was attacked off the country’s coast.

Suspected pirates stormed a vessel belonging to the Sea Trucks Group in the Gulf of Guinea, scene of a series of maritime attacks in recent months.

Two people were killed during the assault, which took place 35 nautical miles off Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta coastal region.

“We have intensified our search for the kidnappers and the abducted four foreigners,” said Nigerian Navy spokesman Commodore Kabir Aliyu.

A second official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an investigation of the Gulf’s subsidiary creeks and waterways is also under way.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to get back these four foreigners who were kidnapped aboard the vessel. We are redoubling our efforts,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Sea Trucks Group said the company’s main goal was the safe release of the hostages.

We are very focused on getting our crew back safely,” Corrie Van Kessel said.

Van Kessel confirmed the four people kidnapped were from Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Thailand.

Plagued

The Gulf of Guinea has been plagued by armed insurgency from militants in recent years, following widespread criticism of companies’ refusal to redistribute oil revenues among local communities.

From 2006 to 2009, armed gangs targeted a number of oil companies, leading to a fall of over 28 percent in the production of crude oil.

Despite a 2009 amnesty deal that reduced the violence, the region has seen a fresh rise in the number of reported pirate attacks in 2012.

In a report released in July, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported that 32 incidents of piracy had been recorded off the coasts of Benin, Nigeria and Togo in the first half of 2012, up from 25 in 2011.

An IMB official told AFP that armed assaults on vessels in the area are being been under-reported.

Many of the raids include “high levels of violence,” the IMB report added.

Gunmen Kill 19 in Church Attack in Central Nigeria

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