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Haiti gang demands $17 million ransom for kidnapped missionaries
In recent months, the nation of Haiti has seen a rise in unrest that was worsened over the past several days following the kidnapping of American and Canadian missionaries. The latest development on the kidnapping came this week as the Haitian gang responsible has demanded a ransom of $17 million for the release of the hostages.
Speaking to CNN, Haitian Justice Minister Liszt Quitel said that the Haitian gang responsible for the kidnapping, the powerful 400 Mawozo gang, has demanded a sum of $17 million for the release of 17 American and Canadian missionaries. 16 Americans and one Canadian were kidnapped on Saturday by the gang after visiting an orphanage in Croix-des-Bouquets in Port-au-Prince. The gang also said that the hostages were being held in a location just outside the suburb.
Quitel said the gang has certain locations to hold their prisoners and that they remain insistent on their demands despite warnings from the Haitian government not to harm any of the hostages. A person knowledgeable about the matter revealed that the hostages were safe, adding that the gang members who contacted the authorities were also calm and were not nervous.
The kidnapping comes at a time of unrest in Haiti as the nation suffers political instability, civil unrest, as well as poverty, and a lack of quality healthcare. The missionaries were made up of five men, seven women, and five children. The missionaries were also affiliated with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries.
The 400 Mawozo gang has played a big part in the rising kidnapping rates in Haiti, according to the Center for Analysis and Research for Human Rights. The members of the said gang have engaged in near-daily confrontations with Haitian law enforcement officials as well as local tax businesses.
The FBI and the State Department have been working with the US Embassy in Haiti along with the Haitian authorities to recover the hostages, according to the New York Times. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that US President Joe Biden has been briefed regarding the situation and has been receiving updates from the State Department and the FBI regarding the matter.
“We can confirm their engagement and the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince is coordinating with local authorities and providing assistance to the families to resolve the situation,” said Psaki.