One kidnap suspect shot, five arrested

The Mozambican police on Monday announced that they had shot dead one member of a gang involved in the recent wave of kidnappings of business people of Asian origin, and arrested a further five.

The police presented two of the five suspects they had arrested to the media. Raul Freia, a spokesperson for the General Command of the police, said that the arrests took place last Friday. He said that there were eight members of the gang. But two had so far evaded capture.

The police also seized three vehicles and one AK-47 assault rifle during this raid.

The police named the man killed, allegedly the leader of the group, as Orquilo Nhassengo. He was one of a group of prisoners who escaped from the cells of the Maputo City police command in January.

The two men presented to reporters, Felix Manhica and Nelson Nhareluga, were, according to the police, in charge of supplying goods to two houses in Khongolote, a neighbourhood in the southern city of Matola, where kidnap victims were held.

Manhica is Nhassengo’s brother, and he denied any connection with the kidnappings. He said he was arrested just because he went to visit his brother shortly before the police raided Nhassengo’s house.

However, Manhica admitted that he knew his brother was wanted by the police. He said his brother left the house every morning with four other people carrying a rucksack which he believed contained firearms.

Nhareluga confirmed that he had been employed by Nhassengo to purchase goods for the kidnap victims held in Khongolote, and for their guards, including food, items of clothing and hygiene products.

On the first occasions Nhassengo asked him to do this job he received 4,500 meticais (about 158 US dollars) to buy food for the person kidnapped. “This work lasted for more than two weeks until the individual kidnapped disappeared”, Nhareluga said.

Each time he purchased goods for the Khongolote houses, he would be paid from 1,000 to 2,000 meticais depending on how much was bought.

Freia said the police had been on the trail of this gang for some time, and they were arrested thanks to the investigations into the kidnappings. But he did not confirm whether this gang was responsible for some of the latest kidnappings, including that of 17 year old Hina Farouk Ayoob, who was abducted on 23 August and freed a few days later under circumstances that are not yet clear.

Nor did Freia say whether this eight member gang was connected with the 11 supposed kidnappers arrested in July.

Post published in: Africa News

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