JUNE 03, 2019
During the first appearance of the suspected kidnappers in court, it was revealed that they had contacted the victims’ families demanding a ransom of US$800,000 in return for their release. According to a Senior State Attorney, who presented the facts to the court, the kidnappers smeared blood on their victims and on the floor to prove their seriousness to the families. Local media also reported that the Canadian government hired a French professional responder working for the London based NYA International, to negotiate the women release. The responder reportedly was in touch with the kidnappers via Facebook messenger and deposited US$120,000 to an account provided by them, but a National Security Operatives who took over the rescue mission, halted the payment. (ghanaweb.com, 14 June 2019 & ghanaweb.com, 15 June 2019)
The information ministry, announced the rescue of two young Canadian women who were kidnapped earlier in the in the city of Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti region. The two, whose names were disclosed by non-governmental organization Youth Challenge International as Lauren Tilley and Bailey Chitty, are reportedly in good health and getting emotional and psychological support from professionals as they travel back to Canada. According to Ghana police five Ghanaians and three Nigerians were taken into custody in connection with the kidnapping, no ransom was paid and no there was no foreign involvement in the rescue operation. The Global Affairs Canada spokesperson, confirmed the ‘release” of the two but stated that due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, and out of respect to the two woman, no further information will be disclosed. (abcnews.go.com, 12 June 2019 & cbc.ca, 12 June 2019 & reuters.com, 12 June 2019)
Two Canadian women volunteering at the Youth Challenge International aid agency were kidnapped in the city of Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti region, located about 200Km/ 125 miles northwest of the capital, Accra. The two, aged 19 and 20, one of whom was identified only by her first name Lauren, were reportedly kidnapped around 8:30 p.m. local time as they arrived at the Silver Spring Apartments where they resided in the suburb of Ahodwo near the Royal Golf Club. The two reportedly traveled in an Uber with a third Canadian woman and were taken as they got out of the vehicle. The third woman then went to alert the police with the Uber driver. A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada confirmed that Canadians were kidnapped in Ghana, but citing security reasons, the official decline to provide any additional details. The two women are believed to have been in the country for less than two weeks before they were kidnapped. Though two other kidnappings of foreigners were recently reported, Kidnappings and violent crime against foreigners are rare in Ghana. (nationalpost.com, 5 June 2019 & ghanaweb.com, 6 June 2019 & yahoo.com, 7 June 2019)
MAY 24, 2019
At around 5: 30 p.m. local time, an IED made of triacetone triperoxide (TATP) filled with nails, screws and bolts exploded on Rue Victor Hugo in the city of Lyon. At least 13 people were lightly wounded in the blast. According to witnesses, a man on a moped left a bag in front of the Brioche Doree chain bakery, which exploded two minutes later. Police immediately cordoned off the entire neighborhood in the city’s 2nd district where the bombing occurred. Given the circumstances of the attack, authorities investigate the bombing as terrorism. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
MAY 19, 2019
An IED explosion hit a tourist bus and a private vehicle traveling near the Grand Egyptian Museum located about 3 Km/ 2 miles from the Giza pyramids. At least 16 people, including 12 South African tourists and four locals, were lightly wounded in the blast. The bombing marked the second such attack on foreign tourists near the Pyramids within five months in what is seems to be a deliberate attempt to hurt the nation’s tourism industry, which only recently started to recover following the downing of Russian plane over Sharm el-Sheikh in 2015. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
MAY 15, 2019
The U.S. State Department (DOS) has ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees from Iraq, both at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil. As result of the security situation visa services at both posts would be temporarily suspended. The DOS decision comes amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran, which could lead to an Iranian attack against U.S. regional interests. Germany and the Netherlands also announced the suspension of military training of Iraqi troops due to the current security situation.
MAY 13, 2019
The Lebanese national, Ashraf Rida Shour, who was kidnapped in Abidjan, was freed. Talking to reporters his brother said that the gang who kidnapped Shour had demanded ransom in return for his release, but the family kept negotiating with the kidnappers as Abidjan police tracked them down and freed him. The demanded ransom amount, as well as details of the rescue operation and the kidnappers’ identities, was not made public. (dailystar.com.lb, 16 May 2019)
A Lebanese national, identified as 35-year-old Ashraf Rida Shour, was kidnapped at around 9:15 p.m. by four men-- two of them armed– outside his Paris Baguette Bakery in the Abobo neighborhood in Abidjan. The men forced Shour into his own vehicle and sped away to an unknown location. During the kidnapping the two-armed men fired several shots in the air to scare off the man’s employees and bystanders from attempting to aid him. Police found the victim’s abandoned vehicle about two hours later in the town of Agboville about 80Km/ 50 miles north of the kidnapping location. The motive behind the kidnapping remains unknown as the kidnappers have yet to contact the victim’s family with any demands. Kidnapping for ransom of foreigners, including long-term expatriate in Ivory Coast is rear. The country as well as the West African countries of Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria ahost a large number of Lebanese expatriates, primarily from south Lebanon. (dailystar.com.lb, 14 May 2019 & lorientlejour.com, 14 May 2019)
MAY 01, 2019
During an overnight operation, French special forces have freed four hostages, including two French tourists an American and a South Korean in the country’s north. The French hostages, were identified Patrick Picque (51) music teacher and Laurent Lassimouillas (46), a jewelry seller, while the identity of the American and South Korean nationals was not made public, but they were both said to be women. The circumstances surrounding the American hostage's capture were unclear, with some officials speculating that she had been in custody of captors for up to a month when she was rescued. Both the US and South Korean governments have declined to comment about its nationals, but media reports has suggested that the American woman was a tourist in her 60s while the Korean woman in her 40s were kidnapped of a bus that had some 10 people aboard on April 12. During the rescue operation two French soldiers and four of the militants were killed while to managed to escape. The French tourists and their local guide, who was later found dead, went missing in the Pendjari wildlife reserve, known for its elephants and lions in usually peaceful and stable Benin, but which lies close to the porous border with Burkina Faso where a number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara are active. (france24.com, 10 May 2019 & yahoo.com, 13 May 2019 & koreaherald.com, 12 May 2019)
The bullet riddle body of a local guide who disappeared along with two French tourists in the Pendjari National Park, located some 550Km/ 340 miles from the economic capital of Cotonou, was found near the burned car that group used across the border in Burkina Faso. The fate of the two who was identified by French authorities only as teachers, was unclear, but French media outlet citing unnamed regional sources, reported that the two had been kidnapped. The guide ‘s murder and kidnapping is a rare incident in Benin, which has largely escaped Islamic militants violence links to al Qaeda and Islamic State in West Africa. (france24.com, 5 May 2019 & reuters.com, 5 May 2019)
The French foreign affairs ministry confirmed the disappearance of two French tourists and their guide from a game drive in the Pendjari national park near the border with Burkina Faso. The French government has previously warned its citizens against traveling to parts of the country near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger due to the risk of kidnapping. (reuters.com, 3 May 2019)
APRIL 26, 2019
Six people, including five teachers, were killed by jihadists during an attack on the village of Maïtaougou, loctated near the town of Comin-Yanga in Kulpélogo province in the Central-East region. Four teachers were killed in the attack that took place at around 5 p.m on the village school, while a fifth, who was seriously injured, died a few hours later. A town councilor from Comin-Yanga was also shot dead by the attackers. Though no group claimed responsibility for the attack, both Ansarul Islam p and the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) have targeted school in the region. Jihadist attacks were initially concentrated in the north of the country, but then the capital Ouagadougou and other regions were targeted. Since 2015, about 350 people have dead in the violence.