21 March 2018

Mozambique: Six Alleged Kidnappers Arrested

Maputo — Mozambique's National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) on Wednesday announced the arrest of six members of a gang accused of kidnapping a Chinese citizen in Boane district, about 30 kilometres west of Maputo, on 9 February.

The head of the SERNIC public relations department, Leonardo Simbine, told reporters that the police also seized five vehicles used by the gang, one AK-47 assault rifle and one pistol.

“This is a gang that has been operating in Maputo province since 2015”, said Simbine. He declined to name the arrested criminals, or give any further details for fear of disturbing the ongoing investigations.

The Chinese victim was released five days after the kidnapping. A ransom was paid, but the amount has not been revealed.

Simbine also said that a SERNIC agent who shot and killed a member of the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) has been suspended from duty, and is facing disciplinary and criminal proceedings.

The agent “acted negligently and with excessive zeal”, said Simbine. A commission of inquiry has been set up to look into the case.

“The process is under way”, said Simbine. “Right now it would be premature to advance any kind of information about this matter. We shall wait until the process reaches its end”.

Nonetheless, Simbine said that the incident occurred when the SERNIC agent in question had been working with members of the police force and the municipal police in an operation to shut down informal bars which were illegally selling drinks in the middle of the night, and inconveniencing the neighbourhood.

Simbine said that, when they reached the bars, the police found a rowdy, drunken scene, and in an attempt to calm the crowd down, the SERNIC agent fired two shots. One of them hit the soldier, who died on the way to hospital.

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