Two of 17 hostages have been released following the abduction of U.S. missionaries and their families in Haiti, an Ohio-based church organization announced Sunday.
Christian Aid Ministries said it cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, where they are 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 being cared for,” the organization wrote in a release.
The kidnappings happened over a month ago, days after a team of U.S. officials visited the impoverished nation and pledged support for its anti-gang measures. All but one of those kidnapped are Americans, including five children.
A Haitian gang named 400 Mawozo has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. The gang’s leader, Wilson Joseph, has threatened to kill the missionaries if his demands aren’t met.
“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” he said in a video posted on social media a few days after the abduction.
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He also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles.
At least 328 kidnapping victims were reported to Haiti’s National Police in the first eight months of 2021, compared with a total of 234 for all of 2020, according to a report issued in September by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti known as BINUH.
The U.S. government has urged U.S. citizens to leave Haiti because of the country’s deepening insecurity and the severe lack of fuel.
Contributing: The Associated Press