Mozambique police hunt for kidnapped ‘drug baron’
14 November 2014, 09:28
Maputo - A large police operation was launched on Thursday after a wealthy Mozambican businessman, branded a "drug baron" by the US government, was kidnapped at gunpoint.
Momade Bachir Suleman was seized by a group of gunmen reportedly armed with AK-47 assault rifles from a mosque in a shopping centre in the capital Maputo.
Police spokesperson Orlando Mudumane said he was bundled into a Toyota Prado 4x4.
Known locally as MBS, Suleman was in 2010 branded a "significant foreign narcotics trafficker" under the "Kingpin Act".
He was subjected to a US assets freeze and visa ban, but remains well connected to Mozambique's political and economic elite.
His last known public appearance came at a local business association banquet in September when he was seated close to president-elect Filipe Nyusi.
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Suleman has reportedly made large donations to Nyusi's Frelimo party, which has ruled Mozambique since independence from Portugal nearly 40 years ago.
He lives down the street from the presidential palace in a mansion boasting a large chandelier and a glass-walled entryway.
In a statement Suleman's family called on the police to do all they can to speed his safe return.
He is the latest in a series of prominent Maputo businessmen kidnapped in recent years.
Mozambique is an important transit point for heroin and other drugs into Africa.