Two of the 17 N.American hostages abducted in Haiti are freed

·2-min read
People protest against Haiti's spike in kidnappings and a gang-aggravated fuel crisis in Port-au-Prince on November 18, 2021 (AFP/Richard PIERRIN)

Two of the 17 North Americans who were abducted by a Haitian gang in mid-October have been freed, the church that they were affiliated with said Sunday, reporting that they were "in good spirits."

"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," said US-based Christian Aid Ministries in a statement on its website.

The missionaries and family members -- a group of 16 Americans and one Canadian -- were abducted October 16 while returning from an orphanage in an area east of the capital Port-au-Prince controlled by one of Haiti's most powerful crime gangs.

Christian Aid Ministries has said the hostages are 12 adults aged 18 to 48, and five children ranging in age from eight months to 15 years.

"We cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, where they are from, or their current location," the church said.

"While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the fifteen people who are still being held," it added.

The United States has advised Americans not to travel to Haiti, in particular due to kidnappings they say regularly target American citizens.

The kidnappers had been demanding a ransom of $17 million for the group's release, security sources had told AFP. No details on the matter were provided by the church on Sunday.

Haiti's recent surge in kidnappings throws into sharp relief the increased domination of gangs over the country, something law enforcement agencies are unable to contain.

The Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) said in late October that at least 782 people had been kidnapped for ransom since January in Haiti, almost as many as in the whole of 2020, which saw 796 kidnappings in total.

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