On Saturday, Oct. 16, sixteen Americans and one Canadian were kidnapped by a Haitian gang.
Among those who were abducted were five children, including an 8-month-old. The abductees are missionaries that are a part of a Christian aid organization that is based in Ohio. The kidnapping happened just outside of Haiti’s capital, Port-Au-Prince.
According to the New York Times, the missionaries were taken by the gang named, “400 Mawozo.” It is reported that the gang is requesting $17 million for the release of the missionaries.
The leader of 400 Mawazo released a video where he claimed he would kill each American if his request is not met. The FBI is assisting in negotiations to try and get the missionaries released.
Haiti has been in a state of chaos for years, but the kidnapping was an example of how difficult life in Haiti is. Back in July, Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse was assassinated. In addition, the country has faced horrendous natural disasters. Since the state of the country is in utter chaos, gangs like 400 Mawza have seized the opportunity to take control.
Eric Jean Jacques, a haitian businessman, told the New York Times that the gangs have gained so much power that they do not even try to hide. He said they take their time with negotiations because law enforcement and military force cannot enter their territory.
400 Mawozo controls the area and have been causing and inciting terror for months. According to the New York Times, they are responsible for 60 percent of the kidnappings from July to September. They have kidnapped businessmen and police officers. Jacques says that the police are basically powerless and are not much help in situations like this.
Negotiations for the release of the missionaries are ongoing and the gang is reported to have said that they will take as long as they need as long as they get what they want.
Sources: CBS, New York Times, NPR