News / Africa

Mozambique Struggles to Find Source of Kidnappings

x
MAPUTO - Authorities in Mozambique have rounded up 22 people in connection with kidnappings that have terrorized the Muslim community in recent months.   The government and Islamic leaders have agreed to work together to try to stop the crimes.   

The call to prayer as dusk falls in the bustling heart of Mozambique's capital, Maputo.

These days, heeding that call can be risky.  Kidnappers have snatched people leaving mosques in the past.

The mysterious spate of kidnappings began last December, targeting a small set of wealthy, Muslim businessmen and their families. It is unclear how many, but reports say more than the 14 kidnappings reported to the police so far.

In some cases families have coughed up as much as $2 million for the release of loved ones.

Until now a shroud of official silence has surrounded these crimes.  Instead the news has filtered out, through the Mozambican media contributing to a climate of fear among Muslims and feeding the rumor mill as to whom is responsible.

Few are prepared to speak in public about what has been going on.

People are afraid to go out at all says Shahid Omar, a worshipper at one mosque in Maputo.

"This is a big problem because you can not walk free here now," said Omar. "People are saying gossipy things you know people around say there is a people, Indian people, crook people.  Maybe there is police involved in these things.  We do not know."

Lack of cooperation

The police have been working non-stop to find out what is behind the abductions.  Maputo city police spokesperson, Arnaldo Chefo says the main obstacle has been the lack of cooperation from the families of the victims.

This is where the problem begins, he says.  In most cases the payment of ransom takes place without having the police involved or even without the police knowing about it.  In most cases families do not want to invite the police from taking place in the exchange of the money.  That stops the police from doing their part.

Four million Mozambicans are Muslim, more than 15 percent of the population. The country's ties to the Islamic world go back to pre-colonial times.  Muslims have traditionally been traders and businesspeople.

Victims

Muslim Yusuf Ahmat says it is a mistake to think the kidnappers are targeting Muslims in general, as the kidnappers tend to target only those of Indian or Pakistani origin.

"Actually it is not the Muslim community," said Ahmat.  "The Muslim community is not formed by the Asian people alone.  As you see in the mosque we are all mixed.  The kidnappings have been Asians, especially the businessmen have been kidnapped."

Twenty years after the end of a civil war that left  Mozambique's economy in tatters, the country is at last poised for a boom.  Large coal and natural gas deposits are attracting foreign investors.  

Muslims like Sheik Cassimo David are worried these unsolved crimes will scare them off.

"With these happenings, these assassinations will make people from outside frightened to come in so the government has to do something," he said.

Authorities say they made dozens of arrests connected to the case after sitting down to share information on the kidnappings with Muslim leaders last week.  And, they are eager to prove Mozambique is safe for Muslims and safe for business.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid