American missionaries say 2 of the 17 abductees were released in Haiti

American missionaries say 2 of the 17 abductees were released in Haiti

Port au Prince — The Ohio-based church organization announced Sunday that two of the 17 members of a missionary group kidnapped over a month ago have been released in Haiti in safety “in good spirits and being looked after.”

The Christian Aid Ministry issued a statement saying that it could not reveal the names of those released, the reason for their release, or other information.

“While we are excited about this release, our thoughts are with the 15 people who are still in custody,” the group said.

The missionaries were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on October 16. There are five babies in the group of 16 US citizens and one Canadian, including an 8-month-old. A local human rights organization reported that their Haitian driver was also kidnapped.

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang threatened to kill the hostages unless his demands were met. Authorities said the gang was demanding $1 million per person, though it was not immediately clear if it included children in the group.

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The release comes as Haiti grapples with a surge in gang-related violence and kidnappings, with the US government recently urging US citizens to leave Haiti amid growing insecurity and severe fuel shortages blamed on gangs closing gas stations. Canada announced on Friday that it will withdraw all but essential staff from its embassy.

Fuel shortages have forced hospitals to turn away patients and paralyze public transportation, with some schools closed and businesses cutting back their hours.

Haiti is also trying to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in mid-August, which killed more than 2,200 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.

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