Two of the 17 members of a religious crew kidnapped over a month ago have been freed in Haiti and are unharmed, “in fantastic spirits and well cared for,” according to their release statement. “In excellent spirits and being cared for,” according to their Ohio-based church organization.
Christian Aid Ministries published a statement stating that it was unable to provide the names of individuals released, the reasons for their release, or any other information.
“While we celebrate this liberation, our hearts are with the 15 individuals who remain imprisoned,” the organization added.
On October 16, the missionaries were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang. The party of 16 Americans and one Canadian includes five children, including an 8-month-old. According to a local human rights group, their Haitian driver was also abducted.
The head of the 400-member Mawozo gang has threatened to murder the captives if his demands are not satisfied. Authorities claimed the gang demanded $1 million per person; however, it wasn’t clear whether payment included the youngsters in the group.
The statement comes as Haiti suffers from an increase in gang-related violence and kidnappings, with the US administration recently recommending US residents to leave the country due to growing insecurity and a chronic scarcity of gasoline blamed on gangs obstructing gas delivery ports. Canada stated on Friday that it was withdrawing all but necessary employees from its embassy.
The Associated Press verified that two hostages were released on Sunday, according to Gary Desrosiers, a spokesperson for Haiti’s National Police.
The FBI, which is assisting Haitian officials in relocating the hostages, refused to respond.
The gasoline crisis has led hospitals to turn away patients and immobilized public transit, forcing some schools to close and companies to cut back on their hours of operation.
Haiti is also attempting to recover from President Jovenel Moise’s assassination on July 7 and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that occurred in mid-August, killing over 2,200 people and demolishing tens of thousands of houses.
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