Two of the 17 members of a missionary group abducted in October have been released and are safe in Haiti, an Ohio-based church organization announced Sunday.
Christian Aid Ministries said they could not confirm or confirm the names of those released, the reason for their release, where they came from or their current 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 are being cared for,” the agency said in a statement.
The October 16 abduction comes just days after a team of U.S. officials visited the poor country and pledged support for its anti-gang measures. The group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian has five children. Their Haitian driver was also abducted.
A Haitian gang of 400 named Mao Zedong has claimed responsibility for the abduction. Gang leader Wilson Joseph has threatened to kill the missionaries if his demands are not met.
In a video posted on social media a few days after the abduction, he said, “I swear by the thunderbolt that if I do not get what I want, I will give these Americans a bullet in the head.”
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He also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Haiti’s National Police Chief Leon Charles.
At least 328 abductees have been reported to Haiti’s national police in the first eight months of 2021, compared to a total of 234 for 2020, according to a September report released by Haiti’s United Nations Integrated Office BINUH.
The U.S. government has called on U.S. citizens to leave Haiti because of the country’s deep insecurity and energy shortages.
Contributed by: Associated Press