Haitian Gang Demanding Millions in Ransom for Kidnapped Missionaries

Police remove a roadblock set by protesters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. Workers angry about the nation’s lack of security went on strike in protest two days after 17 members of a U.S.-based missionary group were abducted by a violent gang. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

The "400 Mawozo" gang, who kidnapped 17 missionaries including children over the weekend, have made their ransom demands known, and they are huge, media outlets are reporting.

The gang is demanding $17 million for the missionaries, all of one are which American. The other is Canadian. The five children abducted include an 8-month-old baby and children ages 3, 6, 14 and 15 years old. The others are made up of five men and seven women.

Haitian Justice Minister Liszt Quitel told CNN the missionaries are being held in a location outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

The group's abduction, Quitel said, are a part of a wave of indiscriminate kidnappings that has become more common as political and civil unrest, lack of quality and healthcare and severe poverty have overwhelmed the island nation.

At least 628 kidnappings have taken place since January, including of 29 foreigners, CNN reported. The 400 Mawozo has typically demanded ransoms of around $20,000.

Quitel told CNN that both Haitian police negotiators and the FBI are advising the missionary group on how to proceed and that negotiations are ongoing. FBI agents are on the ground in Haiti assisting with the investigation but are not leading the negotiations, nor have they spoken directly with the kidnappers, he said.

"The FBI is part of a coordinated US government effort to get the Americans involved to safety. Due to operational considerations, no further information is available at this time," an FBI spokesperson told CNN.

The missonaries had visited Maison La Providence de Dieu orphanage in Croix-des-Bouquets before being kidnapped.

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