A gang kidnapped 17 missionary members from the U.S. and demanded $1 million per person. However, authorities are not sure if that includes the five children being held.
According to an official who was not authorized to speak to media, someone from the 400 Mawozo Gang called a ministry leader after the kidnapping of the missionaries on Saturday, and demanded ransom. The $1 million per person demand was confirmed by a person who is in touch with Christian Aid Ministries. This information was first reported in The Wall Street Journal. Due to the sensitive nature of the situation, the source spoke under condition of anonymity.
According to Tuesday’s statement by the organization, the ages of the adult captives range from 18 to 48 years old, while those held captive are children aged 8 months, 3 to 6 years, 13 to 13 years, and 15 to 15. 16 of the abductees were Americans, and one was Canadian.
The Ohio-based ministry stated that “this group of workers has been dedicated to minister throughout poverty stricken Haiti” and that they were currently working on a reconstruction project to assist those who lost their homes in August’s magnitude 7.2 earthquake.
According to the organization, they were returning from visiting an orphanage and when they were abducted.
In a fresh blow to Haiti’s economy, a recent wave of kidnappings led to a protest strike. It shut down schools, businesses and public transport starting Monday. As the ongoing fuel shortage worsened, unions and other groups pledged to keep the shutdown going indefinitely. Businesses blame gangs for blocking roads or gas distribution terminals.
As hundreds of motorbikes zoomed along the streets of Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, the drivers shouted, “If fuel is not available, we’ll burn it all!”
One protest was held near the residence of the prime minister. Police used tear gas to disperse those who demanded fuel.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated Tuesday in Washington that the FBI was part of a coordinated U.S. Government effort to get U.S. citizens involved with safety. The American Embassy in Port au Prince coordinates with local officials as well as the families of the seized.
“Kidnappings are common and often involve US citizens. We know that these groups target U.S citizens who assume they have the money and resources to pay ransoms.
She stated that it was U.S. policy to not negotiate with hostages but declined to provide details.
This kidnapping was the most extensive reported in recent years. As Haiti tries to recover after President Jovenel Moise’s assassination on July 7, and the earthquake that devastated southern Haiti, which killed over 2,200 people, gangs in Haiti are becoming more brazen.