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Haiti gang asks for $17M for kidnapped US missionaries – report

  • 19 Oct 2021

The gang demanded $1 million for each of the 17 missionaries who were kidnapped on Saturday during a trip to an orphanage in Haiti, US media reported.

The gang abducted 17 missionaries from a US-based organisation at the Maison La Providence de Dieu orphanage in Ganthier, Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti. ( AP )

A gang that kidnapped 17 members of a US-based missionary group has demanded a $17 million ransom for them, according to Haiti's justice minister, according to the US media.

Justice Minister Liszt Quitel said the FBI and Haitian police are in contact with the kidnappers and seeking the release of the missionaries abducted over the weekend outside the capital Port-au-Prince by a gang called 400 Mawozo, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Quitel said the gang was demanding $1 million per person. 

The Journal said he identified the ages of the abducted children as 8 months and 3, 6, 14 and 15 years.

FBI agents and other US officials are helping Haitian authorities hunt for the 12 adults and five children linked to the Christian Aid Ministries in Ohio who were kidnapped on Saturday during a trip to visit an orphanage.

It is the largest reported kidnapping of its kind in recent years, with Haitian gangs growing more brazen and abductions spiking.

READ MORE: Several US missionaries, family members kidnapped in Haiti

Nationwide strike to protest gangs

Kidnappings have become more brazen and commonplace in Haiti amid a growing political and economic crisis, with at least 628 incidents in the first nine months of 2021 alone, according to a report by the Haitian nonprofit Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, or CARDH.

Haitians on Monday mounted a nationwide strike to protest gang crime and kidnappings, which have been on the rise for years and have worsened since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

Shops were open again on Tuesday in Port-au-Prince and public transportation had starting circulating again. 

Transport sector leaders had pushed for the strike, in part because transport workers are frequent targets of gang kidnappings.

The FBI said in a statement on Monday that it is part of a US government effort to get the Americans involved to safety.

Kidnappings in Haiti rarely involved foreigners.

The victims are usually middle-class Haitians who cannot afford bodyguards but can nonetheless put together a ransom by borrowing money from family or selling property.

The growing crisis in Haiti has also become a major issue for the United States. 

A wave of thousands of Haitian migrants arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, but many were deported to their home country shortly after.

READ MORE: Haiti observes strike over kidnappings, insecurity

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