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. Five children were among the 16 U.S. Citizens and 1 Canadian in this group. They also kidnapped their Haitian driver.
400 Mawozo, an Haitian gang claimed the responsibility for the kidnappings. Wilson Joseph was the leader of the gang and threatened to murder missionaries if they didn’t comply with his demands.
In a social media video, he stated that “I swear to thunder that if it’s not what I ask for, I’ll put a bullet into the heads of these Americans.”
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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.
Contributing to The Associated Press