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Haitian gang releases 3 more hostages, U.S. religious group says

Three Haitian soldiers in Port-au-Prince
Haitian armed forces secure an area where Prime Minister Ariel Henry attended a ceremony in Port-au-Prince on Oct. 17, a day after a group of U.S. missionaries was kidnapped by a gang.
(Joseph Odelyn / Associated Press)

A religious group based in Ohio said Monday that a violent gang in Haiti has released three more hostages, and an additional 12 people abducted in October remain in captivity.

The statement from Christian Aid Ministries said the three people released Sunday in Haiti were “safe and seem to be in good spirits.” The group provided no further details.

On Nov. 21, the religious organization announced that the 400 Mawozo gang had released the first two hostages of a group of 17 kidnapped in mid-October. Twelve adults and five children were abducted; 16 members of the group are U.S. citizens and one is Canadian.

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang has threatened to kill the hostages unless his demands are met. Authorities have said the gang was seeking $1 million per person, although it wasn’t immediately clear that included the children in the group.

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“We are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night,” said the statement from Christian Aid Ministries, an Anabaptist missions organization based in Berlin, Ohio. “As with the previous release, we are not able to provide the names of the people released, the circumstances of the release, or any other details.”

The group reiterated its request for supporters to devote Monday through Wednesday as days of prayer and fasting “to intercede for those who are still being held as well as those who have been released.”

From the Philippines to El Salvador, there is a long history of American missionaries facing violence while trying to spread their religions abroad.

The release comes amid an ongoing spike in kidnappings in the capital of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti, which is struggling to recover from a presidential assassination in July, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck in mid-August and a severe fuel shortage.

On Sunday, a gang leader known as Ti Lapli posted a YouTube video warning people not to cross in upcoming days through the Martissant community, which has been the site of violent clashes between warring gangs.

“Insecurity has increased,” the gang leader said. “I invite the people of Martissant to stock up on food and gasoline. The next few days will be difficult. ... We will not remain with our arms crossed in face of those who try to destroy us.”


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