Crime & Justice

Kidnapped missionaries freed, Haitian police say

Port-au-Prince, Dec 16 (EFE).- All 17 of the North American missionaries and their children abducted two months ago by a gang have been released, Haitian National Police spokesman Gary Desrosiers confirmed to Efe Thursday.

The first report about the release of the 12 people who remained in captivity came Thursday morning from CARDH, a Haitian human rights organization.

The captors freed two hostages on Nov. 21 and three others on Dec. 5.

The 16 United States citizens and one Canadian abducted by the 400 Mawozo gang are affiliated with Christian Aid Ministries, based in the US state of Ohio, which celebrated the news from Port-au-Prince.

“We glorify God for answered prayer – the remaining 12 hostages are FREE! Join us in praising God that all 17 of our loved ones are now safe,” the group said in a statement.

On Oct. 16, gunmen with 400 Mawozo intercepted a van carrying the 12 adults and five children as they were returning from a visit to an orphanage in Ganthier, an area on the outskirts of the capital.

The gang initially demanded a ransom of $17 million, or $1 million per captive, as well as the release from prison of a senior figure in 400 Mawozo.

An absence of effective institutions has enabled gangs, such as 400 Mawozo and the larger and more powerful G9, to terrorize the residents of slums on the fringes of Port-au-Prince.

A significant part of Ganthier is effectively under the control of 400 Mawozo, who earlier this year began to target churches and clergy, including a group of 10 people – two of them French nationals – who were kidnapped in April and ultimately freed.

Kidnappings grew more frequent following the July 7 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who was brutally slain in his own home despite the presence of a large security detail outside the residence.

CARDH has documented 949 abductions in Haiti this year, including the kidnappings of 55 foreign nationals from five different countries. EFE mp-mm/dr

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