Haiti gang releases two of the 17 kidnapped US missionaries

Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Two of the 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti have been released, the US based Christian Aid Ministries said Sunday in a statement on its website.

The Croix-des-Bouquets suburb of Haitian capital Port-au-Prince where the missionaries were kidnapped.
The Croix-des-Bouquets suburb of Haitian capital Port-au-Prince where the missionaries were kidnapped.  © IMAGO / Agencia EFE

The group, which includes 16 Americans and a Canadian, was kidnapped on October 16 by a notorious gang east of Haiti’s capital.

"We have learned that two of the hostages in Haiti were released. We praise God for this! Only limited information can be provided, but we are able to report that the two hostages who were released are safe, in good spirits, and being cared for," CAM said.

The charity, based in Ohio, said it cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, where they are from, or their current location.

"We ask that those who have more specific information about the release and the individuals involved would safeguard that information," CAM said.

It encouraged people to continue to pray for the full resolution of the situation

The group, which included five children, the youngest of whom is 8 months old, was grabbed at gunpoint in Ganthier, which is part of Croix-des-Bouquets, a sprawling suburb located east of metropolitan Port-au-Prince. The 400 Mawozo gang had demanded $17 million – $1 million per person – in order to release them. One of its leaders also threatened to "put a bullet" in their head if the ransom wasn’t paid.

As the missionaries and their relatives continued to be held, Christian Aid Ministries, the charity they worked for, asked for prayers.

"We are still waiting and praying for the group of 17 to be released, if God so wills," CAM said in a statement on its website on November 10.

Surge in crime as Haiti grapples with crises

People crowd to get gasoline at a station in Port-au-Prince.
People crowd to get gasoline at a station in Port-au-Prince.  © IMAGO / Agencia EFE

FBI agents had flown to Haiti the day after the kidnapping. They were later joined by other agents, who spent more than three weeks assisting the families and Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries with the gang’s ransom requests.

Even while the group was held in captivity, other kidnappings continue to occur in Haiti, where the surge in gang violence is also fueling a shortage in diesel and gasoline.

Around the same time of the kidnappings, gangs began blocking fuel tankers from accessing the country’s two fuel distribution terminals. The shortage is affecting everything from banks to schools and hospitals, to the country’s potable water supply.

On November 12, the leader of the gang federation that had been blocking fuel distribution announced a temporary truce, while demanding the resignation of interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

That same day, American Airlines, which operated three daily flights to Port-au-Prince out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, announced it was cutting back to one daily flight out of Miami. The airline cited reduced demand.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Agencia EFE

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