(2012-07-11) The Mozambican police on Sunday arrested a gang of criminals believed to be involved in a wave of kidnaps of business people, according to a report in Tuesday’s issue of the independent newsheet “Mediafax”, citing anonymous police sources.
Officially, the police have neither confirmed nor denied the arrests, merely saying that there is an operation against the kidnappers under way, but that it is not yet opportune to release details to the press.
The “Mediafax” sources say that the arrests followed the abduction last Thursday of the son of prominent businessman Abdul Magid Osman. (But other information reaching AIM corrected this - the victim is in fact the nephew of Magid Osman, who is a former Finance Minister). The gang demanded a ransom of 1.5 million meticais (about 54,000 US dollars).
The money was delivered – but the police put an electronic chip in the case containing the banknotes, which served as a tracking device. The hostage and the money were thus recovered, and the kidnappers detained.
A slightly different version appears in the daily paper “O Pais”, which puts the ransom sum at the much higher figure of two million dollars. During the police operation, police set up checkpoints to inspect every car in the area of Beluluane, on the outskirts of Maputo.
The “O Pais” sources say that a car was ridded with bullets after an exchange of shots between the police and its occupants. Two people in the car were seriously injured and taken to hospital. The police recovered two abandoned cars, one in Beluluane, and one in the nearby town of Boane. Large sums of money, presumed to be the ransom, were found in one of them.
In the series of kidnappings, which began late last year, criminals are known to have abducted at least 15 business people, releasing them on payment of enormous ransoms. In June, the police claimed they had detained some people linked to the kidnappings, but did not name them or give any other details.