Three more hostages released in Haiti, US missionary group says

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The 400 Mawjo gang still holds 12 hostages, including children who were kidnapped in October and are demanding a ransom.

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Three more hostages kidnapped by a gang in Haiti have been released, the United States-based missionary group that organized its trip to the Caribbean nation said, while another 12 are still held.

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“We are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night,” Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement on Monday. “Those released are safe and seem to be in good spirits.”

The group gave no further details and said it could not name those who were released or provide information about the circumstances under which they were freed.

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Sixteen Americans and a Canadian, including five children, were abducted after being taken to an orphanage in Haiti in October.

On 21 November, the religious organization announced that the gang responsible for the kidnapping and the 400 Mawzo, one of Haiti’s most powerful criminal factions, had released the first two hostages.

Christian Aid Ministry, an Anabaptist mission organization, reiterated its request for supporters to dedicate Monday through Wednesday as days of prayer and fasting “to intercede for those still being held as well as those who have been released”.

The leader of the 400 Mawjo gang has threatened to kill the hostages if their demands are not met. Authorities have said the gang was asking for $1m per person, although it was not immediately clear whether the group included children.

The kidnappings sparked protests highlighting Haiti’s serious kidnapping problem, which has worsened in recent months amid economic troubles and political turmoil.

Haiti is struggling to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, as well as a mid-August 7.2-magnitude earthquake and severe fuel shortages.

The Haitian government and police have struggled to control gangs blocking fuel delivery terminals. Last month, the US urged its citizens to leave Haiti amid a deepening crisis.

On Sunday, the leader of a gang known as “Tee Lapli” posted a YouTube video warning people not to pass through the Martisant community, which has been the site of violent clashes between warring gangs. .

“Insecurity has increased,” said the gang leader. “I invite the people of the Martian to stock up on food and gasoline. The next few days will be difficult… We will not be carrying arms in front of those who are trying to destroy us.”

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