Haitian gang boss threatens to kill kidnapped missionaries

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The boss of a notorious Haitian A gang accused of kidnapping 17 members of a US-based missionary group over the weekend are warning hostages will be killed if their demands are not met.

“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I ask for, I will put a bullet in the head of these Americans,” gang leader Wilson Joseph said in a video posted on social media Thursday.

Officials said earlier this week that the 400 Mawozo gang demanded $ 1 million for each of those kidnapped, although it is not clear whether this included the five children in the group, including an 8-month-old. Sixteen Americans and one Canadian were kidnapped, along with their Haitian driver.

People demonstrate Tuesday for the release of kidnapped missionaries near the headquarters of Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
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People demonstrate Tuesday for the release of kidnapped missionaries near the headquarters of Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
(AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn)

HATI GANG LEADER THREATS TO KILL ABDUCTED MISSIONARIES

Joseph also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Haiti’s national police chief as he spoke in front of the open coffins which apparently contained several members of his gang who were recently killed.

“You make me cry. I cry water. But I will make you cry blood,” he said.

Later that day, Henry’s office announced that Leon Charles had resigned as chief of Haiti’s national police and had been replaced by Frantz Elbé. Le Nouvelliste newspaper said Elbé was director of the South East and Nippes police services and previously held the post of general security coordinator at the National Palace when Jocelerme Privert was provisional president.

“We want public peace to be restored, to return to normal life and to find the path to democracy,” said Henry.

There was no immediate comment from Charles or Elbé.

The missionaries who were kidnapped on Saturday during a visit to an orphanage belong to Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, who held a press conference ahead of the publication of Joseph’s video.

Weston Showalter, spokesperson for the religious group, said the families of those abducted were from Amish, Mennonites and other conservative Anabaptist communities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania , Oregon and Ontario, Canada. He read a letter from the families, who were not identified by name, in which they said, “God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord’s command to love your enemies.

A man and woman, both cradling children, walk the grounds of Christian Aid Ministries headquarters in Titanyen, Haiti on Thursday.

A man and woman, both cradling children, walk the grounds of Christian Aid Ministries headquarters in Titanyen, Haiti on Thursday.
(AP Photo / Matias Delacroix)

A CRIME STRIKE IN HAITITI CLOSES THE COUNTRY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE SEARCH FOR MISSIONARIES

The group invited people to join them in prayer for the kidnappers as well as for those who have been kidnapped and expressed gratitude for the help of “people knowledgeable and experienced in handling” such situations.

“Pray for these families,” Showalter said. “They are in a difficult situation.”

The organization then released a statement saying it would not comment on the video.

The gang leader’s death threat has added to already intense concern in and around Holmes County, Ohio, where Christian Aid Ministries is based and which has one of the largest concentrations of Amish, Mennonite conservatives and related groups. Many members of these groups have supported the organization through donations or volunteering in its warehouse.

“Many people in the community feel helpless, but they also realize the power of prayer and the power of our historical theology,” including the Anabaptist belief in non-resistance to violence, said Marcus Yoder, executive director of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Millersburg. .

On the same day the missionaries were kidnapped, a gang also kidnapped a Haitian university professor, according to the Office of Citizen Protection similar to Haiti’s ombudsman. He also noted that a Haitian pastor kidnapped earlier this month had not been released despite paying a ransom.

Criminals “operate with impunity, attacking all members of society,” the office said.

People demonstrate by carrying a banner with a message in Creole: "No to kidnappings, no to violence against women!  Long live the Ministries of Christian Aid,"  demanding the release of the kidnapped missionaries on Tuesday in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

People demonstrate by carrying a banner with a message in Creole: “No to kidnappings, no to violence against women!” Long live the ministries of Christian Aid, ”demanding the release of the kidnapped missionaries in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Tuesday.
(AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn)

UNICEF said Thursday that 71 women and 30 children had been abducted so far this year, surpassing the 59 women and 37 children abducted in the past year. “They represent a third of the 455 kidnappings reported this year,” the agency said.

“No place is safer for children in Haiti,” Jean Gough, UNICEF regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a statement. “Whether it’s on their way to school, at home or even at church, girls and boys are at risk of being kidnapped anywhere, at any time of the day or night.

Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators blocked roads and burned tires in the Haitian capital to protest a severe fuel shortage and rising insecurity and to demand the resignation of the prime minister.

In addition to the kidnappings, gangs are accused of blocking gas distribution terminals and hijacking supply trucks, which officials say has resulted in a fuel shortage. Many gas stations remain closed for several days at a time, and the fuel shortage is so severe that the CEO of Digicel Haiti announced this week that 150 of its 1,500 branches across the country are running out of diesel.

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Alexandre Simon, an English and French teacher, said he and others were protesting the dire conditions Haitians face.

“There are a lot of people who cannot eat,” he said. “There is no job … There are a lot of things that we don’t have.

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