PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A gang that kidnapped 17 members of a U.S.-based missionary group demanded $1 million ransom per person, although authorities were not clear whether that amount included the five children being held, a top Haitian official said Tuesday.
The official, who was not authorized to speak to the press, told The Associated Press that someone from the 400 Mawozo gang made the demand Saturday in a call to a leader of the ministry group shortly after the abduction.
A person in contact with the organization, Christian Aid Ministries, confirmed the $1 million per person demand, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. That person spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.
The adults range in age from 18 to 48, the children from 8 months to 15 years, according to a statement from the organization on Tuesday. Sixteen of the abductees are Americans and one Canadian.
“This group of workers has been committed to minister throughout poverty-stricken Haiti,” the Ohio-based ministry said, adding that the missionaries worked most recently on a project to help rebuild homes lost in a magnitude-7.2 earthquake that struck on Aug. 14.
The group was returning from visiting an orphanage when it was abducted, the organization said.
Responding to the recent wave of kidnappings, workers staged a protest strike that shuttered businesses, schools and public transportation starting Monday. The work stoppage was a new blow to Haiti’s anemic economy. Unions and other groups vowed to continue the shutdown indefinitely.Post too long. Click here to view the full text.