Moz cops detain 22 in Muslim kidnappings

2012-06-19 20:49

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Maputo - Police in Mozambique have detained 22 people implicated in at least 14 kidnappings of wealthy Muslims for ransom since last year, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Deputy interior minister Jose Mandra said all the people were rounded up in the capital Maputo, according to O Pais daily newspaper.

Some are behind bars while others have been freed, said Mandra. It is unclear if any have been charged.

Authorities claim at least 14 people - most from the wealthy Muslim commercial class - have been kidnapped since late last year.

Gangs target unsuspecting victims in public, then claim thousands of dollars in ransom for their release.

Members of the Muslim community said the actual number was far higher as many families chose not to involve the police. The detentions came as some called for protests against perceived police inaction.

The community has been tight-lipped over the attacks, but one religious leader who had earlier called on his community to take to the streets said he was satisfied by the arrests.

"We are happy because we know the police is taking action. At least I know the police are not sitting still - they are doing something," Maputo-based Imam Sheik Cassimo David told AFP.

Kidnappers are still holding nine people of "Asian" origin under various circumstances in the city, Mandra told the newspaper.

Authorities believe they are dealing with an organised crime syndicate with international links.

The crimes caused panic in the relatively calm southern African nation which is a popular tourist destination.
Read more on:    mozambique  |  southern africa
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