By PETER SMITH and EVENS SANON
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — An Ohio-based religious group announced Monday that a violent gang in Haiti has freed three more hostages, while 12 others remain kidnapped.
The statement from Christian Aid Ministries said the people were released in Haiti on Sunday and are “safe and appear to be in good spirits.” The group did not give further details.
On November 21, the religious organization announced that the 400 Mawozo gang had freed the first two hostages from a group of 17 people abducted in mid-October. There are 12 adults and five children in the group of 16 American citizens and one Canadian, including an 8-month-old child.
The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang has threatened to kill the hostages if his demands are not met. Authorities said the gang was looking for $1 million per person, although it was not immediately clear that this included the children in the group.
“We are grateful to God that three more hostages were freed last night,” said the statement from Christian Aid Ministries, an Anabaptist missionary organization based in Berlin, Ohio. “As with the previous release, we are unable to provide the names of those released, the circumstances of the release or any other details.”
The group reiterated its request for supporters to set aside Monday through Wednesday as days of prayer and fasting “to intercede for those who are still detained as well as for those who have been released.”
The release comes amid a continuing spike in kidnappings in the capital of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti, which is struggling to recover from the July 7 presidential assassination, an earthquake in magnitude 7.2 that hit in mid-August and a severe fuel shortage. .
On Sunday, a gang leader known as “Ti Lapli” posted a video on YouTube warning people not to drive through the community of Martissant in the coming days, which has been the scene of violent clashes between warring gangs.
“Insecurity has increased,” the gang leader said. “I invite the inhabitants of Martissant to fill up with food and gasoline. The next few days will be difficult… We will not stand idly by in the face of those who try to destroy us.
Smith reported from Pittsburgh.