Haiti Kidnappers Released Three Christian Aid Ministries Missionaries; 12 Still Held by the Captors
The Haiti kidnappers released three missionaries from Christian Aid Ministries, a United States-based missionary group. Meanwhile, another 12 are still held by the captors.
Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries released a statement, saying they are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night, according to an Aljazeera News report. The missionary group added that those who were released are safe and seem to be in good spirits.
The gang responsible for the abduction in Haiti was known to be 400 Mawozo and is one of Haiti's most powerful criminal factions.
Christian Aid Ministries did not release any further details, saying that it could not name the people who were released or provide information about the circumstances under which they were freed.
The Anabaptist missions organization repeated its request for supporters to devote Monday through Wednesday as days of prayer and fasting for those who are still being held and those who have been released.
Meanwhile, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Monday that the United States would continue to work to secure the release of the remaining hostages.
Kidnapping of Missionaries in Haiti
In October, 16 Americans and one Canadian were abducted after they visited an orphanage in an area where the criminal gang was running its operations, according to a BBC News report.
The missionaries were on their way back when their bus was seized by 400 Mawozo gang members on Ganthier. The area was east of the capital Port-au-Prince.
The missionary group included five men, seven women, and five children.
400 Mawozo later demanded a ransom of $1 million for each of the 17 people being held. However, it was not immediately clear if that included the children in the group.
Ransoms can be paid for the release of U.S. citizens held captive under American law.
However, U.S. citizens are barred from paying ransoms to terrorist organizations, according to The New York Times report.
U.S. officials expressed concerns that if ransoms are paid to the Haiti kidnappers, it will only encourage more kidnappings.
State Department officials said that there are tens of thousands of Haitian Americans in Haiti as of the moment.
The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang had warned to kill the hostages if the group's ransom demands were not met.
The gang leader, Wilson Joseph, said in a video recorded on the streets of the Croix-de-Bouquets neighborhood that he will prefer to kill them and unload a big weapon to each of their heads.
Haitian security officials noted that the 400 Mawozo gang is believed to make about $70,000 a week from extortion, theft, and kidnap-for-ransom schemes.
Authorities in the U.S. had captured an American citizen and two Haitian citizens in Florida last month.
The three were accused of smuggling arms to 400 Mawozo and providing a steady source of weapons to the gang.
Florida officials said that American citizen Eliande Tunis had pledged loyalty to 400 Mawozo.
Tunis said in an audio message sent to a colleague that "we are snakes."
Tunis noted that people would be shocked to see Mawozo invade Miami.
The abductions caused protests emphasizing Haiti's kidnapping problem, which has worsened in recent months amid the political and economic turmoil.
This article is owned by Latin Post.
Written by: Mary Webber
WATCH: ABC NEWS LIVE: 3 more of 17 kidnapped Haiti missionaries released, nonprofit says - from ABC News
Subscribe to Latin Post!
Sign up for our free newsletter for the Latest coverage!