MADAGASCAR: Growing trend of kidnap-for-ransom targeting business owners

Criminal gangs in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo are kidnapping Indo-Pakistani business owners at an increasing rate.

In 2017, there have been at least five kidnap-for-ransom (K&R) incidents involving Indo-Pakistani individuals, a group of people in Madagascar commonly referred to as Karana. Criminal gangs have become increasingly armed and have begun targeting the children of wealthy Karana families. The Karana community has been in Madagascar since the 1880s and is now made up of over 20,000 people. Madagascar’s strict citizenship laws prevent the majority of Karana from obtaining Malagasy citizenship as one must have a native-born mother in order to apply for citizenship. Many Karana people are French citizens because of the economic ties Madagascar has with France. Despite making up a small percentage of the country’s 24 million people, Karana play a significant role in the Malagasy economy, which makes them a high-value target for criminals.

The five K&R incidents this year occurred in various areas of the capital Antananarivo. On 4 January, a Karana businessman was kidnapped in the Tanjombato suburb of Antananarivo despite having two private close protection guards with him at the time. On 10 February, a Karana French-Malagasy dual national whose family owns a distribution company in the commercial district of Tsaralalàna was kidnapped outside his home. On 11 April, five armed men kidnapped the teenage son of a textile business owner in the Andranomena neighbourhood, 1km from the United States embassy. The incident occurred near a police checkpoint but the officers were unable to stop the attack as they were unarmed. A similar incident occurred on 14 May when the son of a Karana businessman was kidnapped by twelve armed men upon leaving a funeral in the upscale Ilafy neighbourhood. That victim was also accompanied by close protection security details. Finally, on 7 June four armed men kidnapped a man in the residential Behoririka neighbourhood. The victim was the owner of the Grand Mellis hotel in the Tsaralalàna suburb of Antananarivo. Most of the victims were released after ten days, following the likely payment of a ransom by the family.

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