Two of 17 members of a missionary group who were kidnapped in October have been freed in Haiti and are safe, an Ohio-based church organization announced Sunday.
Christian Aid Ministries said it cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, where they are from or their location.
“Only limited information can be provided, but we are able to report that the two hostages who were released are safe, in good spirits, and being cared for,” the organization wrote in a news release.
The kidnappings occurred Oct. 16, days after a team of U.S. officials visited the impoverished nation and pledged support for its anti-gang measures. There were five children in the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. Their Haitian driver also was abducted.
A Haitian gang named 400 Mawozo claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. The gang’s leader, Wilson Joseph, threatened to kill the missionaries if his demands weren’t met.
“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” he said in a video posted on social media a few days after the abduction.
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He also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles.
At least 328 kidnapping victims were reported to Haiti’s National Police in the first eight months of 2021, compared with a total of 234 for all of 2020, according to a report issued in September by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti known as BINUH.
The U.S. government urged U.S. citizens to leave Haiti because of the country’s deepening insecurity and the severe lack of fuel.
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