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Haiti gang demands $17m ransom for kidnapped US missionaries

FBI agents are helping to hunt for the 12 adults and five children

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People ride on a motorcycle near a burning barricade as Haitians mount a nationwide strike to protest a growing wave of kidnappings, days after the abduction of a group of missionaries, in Port-au-Prince, in Haiti October 18, 2021. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol/File Photo

People ride on a motorcycle near a burning barricade as Haitians mount a nationwide strike to protest a growing wave of kidnappings, days after the abduction of a group of missionaries, in Port-au-Prince, in Haiti October 18, 2021. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol/File Photo

Burning tires block a road, set by protesters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Workers angry about the nation’s lack of security went on strike in protest two days after 17 members of a US-based missionary group were abducted by a violent gang. Photo: AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn

Burning tires block a road, set by protesters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Workers angry about the nation’s lack of security went on strike in protest two days after 17 members of a US-based missionary group were abducted by a violent gang. Photo: AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn

People a motorcycle near a burning barricade as Haitians mount a nationwide strike to protest a growing wave of kidnappings, days after the abduction of a group of missionaries, in Port-au-Prince, in Haiti. Photo: REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol

People a motorcycle near a burning barricade as Haitians mount a nationwide strike to protest a growing wave of kidnappings, days after the abduction of a group of missionaries, in Port-au-Prince, in Haiti. Photo: REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol

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People ride on a motorcycle near a burning barricade as Haitians mount a nationwide strike to protest a growing wave of kidnappings, days after the abduction of a group of missionaries, in Port-au-Prince, in Haiti October 18, 2021. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol/File Photo

A gang that kidnapped 17 members of a US-based missionary group has demanded a $17m (€15m) ransom for them, according to Haiti’s justice minister, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

Justice Minister Liszt Quitel said the gang was demanding one million dollars per person.

Mr Quitel confirmed the figure to the New York Times.

The Journal said he identified the ages of the abducted children as eight months and three, six, 14 and 15 years.

A wave of kidnappings prompted a protest strike that shuttered businesses, schools and public transportation in a new blow to Haiti’s economy, and unions and other groups vowed to continue the shutdown yesterday.

FBI agents and other US officials are helping Haitian authorities hunt for the 12 adults and five children linked to the Christian Aid Ministries in Ohio who were kidnapped on Saturday during a trip to visit an orphanage. It is the largest reported kidnapping of its kind in recent years.

Haitian gangs are growing more brazen and abductions are spiking as the country tries to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people in August.

“We are calling on authorities to take action,” said Jean-Louis Abaki, a taxi driver who joined the strike on Monday.

With the usually chaotic streets of Haiti’s capital quiet and largely empty, Mr Abaki said that if Prime Minister Ariel Henry and National Police Chief Leon Charles want to stay in power, “they have to give the population a chance at security”.

Haitian police said the abduction was carried out by the 400 Mawozo gang.

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In April, a man who claimed to be the gang’s leader told a radio station that it was responsible for abducting five priests, two nuns and three relatives of one of the priests that month. They were later released.

At least 328 kidnappings were reported to Haiti’s National Police in the first eight months of 2021, compared with a total of 234 for all of 2020.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the rise in gang violence has affected relief efforts in Haiti.

He said that Haiti’s government should redouble efforts to reform and strengthen the police department to address public safety.


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