World

Haiti kidnappers place $17 million ransom on 17 missionaries

Armed police ride in the back of a truck after the streets of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince were deserted following a call for a general strike launched by several professional associations and companies to denounce insecurity in Port-au-Prince on October 18, 2021. - A nationwide general strike emptied the streets of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince on Monday with organisers denouncing the rapidly disintegrating security situation highlighted by the kidnapping of American and Canadian missionaries at the weekend. The kidnapping of 17 adults and children by one of Haiti's brazen criminal gangs underlined the country's troubles following the assassination of president Jovenel Mose in July and amid mounting lawlessness in the Western hemisphere's poorest nation. (Photo by Richard PIERRIN / AFP) (Photo by RICHARD PIERRIN/AFP via Getty Images)

A Haitian gang that kidnapped a group of American and Canadian missionaries is asking for $17 million to release them, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing a Haitian official.

Newsmen had reported, Sunday, October 17, the kidnapping of the 17 missionaries and family members, including minors.

According to a report, the kidnapping took place after the missionaries left an orphanage in the crisis-engulfed Caribbean nation, the New York Times and CNN said.

Justice Minister Liszt Quitel said the FBI and Haitian police are in contact with the kidnappers and seeking the release of the missionaries abducted over the weekend outside the capital Port-au-Prince by a gang called 400 Mawozo, the Journal reported.

Negotiations could take weeks, Quitel told the Journal.

The group of 16 Americans and 1 Canadian includes six women and five children.

Kidnappings have become more brazen and commonplace in Haiti amid a growing political and economic crisis, with at least 628 incidents in the first nine months of 2021 alone, according to a report by the Haitian nonprofit Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, or CARDH.

Haitians on Monday mounted a nationwide strike to protest gang crime and kidnappings, which have been on the rise for years and have worsened since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

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