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Two of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti are released, group says


Two people associated with a US missionary group arrested in a mass kidnapping in Haiti more than a month ago have been released, the organization said on Sunday.

The hostages were among 17 people kidnapped by a notorious Haitian gang on October 16 while visiting an orphanage outside the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Announcing that two of them had been released, the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries urged discretion to protect those still in the hands of gang members.

“We cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, their origin or current location,” the group said. “We ask those with more specific information about the release and those involved to protect that information.”

The group, which included 16 Americans and a Canadian, worked with Christian Aid Ministries before being kidnapped by one of Haiti’s most formidable gangs, the 400 Mawozo, infamous for orchestrating mass kidnappings.

The gang initially demanded a ransom of $ 1 million per person, but this was widely seen as the start of negotiations that are common in kidnappings in Haiti. It was not immediately clear how much money, if any, had been paid.

The mass kidnapping of more than a dozen U.S. citizens, including five children, sparked international fury, with U.S. lawmakers condemning the violence in Haiti, and the FBI and the State Department working with local authorities to win the day. freedom of missionaries.

Mass kidnappings have become commonplace in Haiti, but the brazen kidnapping in broad daylight has shocked even local officials and residents accustomed to gang violence, a further sign of the country’s growing lawlessness.

Security in the country has deteriorated following numerous natural disasters and political crises, including the assassination in July of President Jovenel Moïse. Violence has engulfed much of the capital and, by some estimates, powerful gangs now control around half of the city.

Gangs, armed and often politically backed, have long been part of the country’s social fabric, but after Mr. Moïse’s murder they grew more assertive, taking control of vast swathes of land.

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in August, further devastating a country that has yet to recover from a 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people. This summer’s rescue efforts were initially hampered by security concerns, and aid did not flow freely until after gangs controlling a highway connecting the southern peninsula with the rest of Haiti declared a truce. A severe storm followed a few days later.

The increase in gang violence has recently sparked peaceful protests, with groups in towns demanding a response from the government. Some roads have blocked roads and set tires on fire, a common symbol of protest in Haiti.

nytimes Gt

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