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Kidnappers of Americans in Haiti Make Their Demand

The group called 400 Mawozo wants $17M, $1M for each person taken
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2021 8:35 AM CDT
Kidnappers of Americans in Haiti Make Their Demand
Children stand in the courtyard of the Maison La Providence de Dieu orphanage it Ganthier, Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, Sunday, where a gang abducted 17 missionaries from a US-based organization.   (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

(Newser) – The Haitian group that kidnapped 16 American missionaries and another from Canada has named its price—it wants $17M, or $1 million for each person taken, reports the Wall Street Journal. Now the negotiating begins as more light is shed on what happened. Details:

  • Victims: All those kidnapped are Mennonites who belong to Christian Aid Ministries, based in Berlin, Ohio. They come from all over the US, and one is from Ontario. An 8-month-old baby is among those kidnapped, as are youths ages 3, 6, 14, and 15.
  • Kidnappers: The group known as 400 Mawozo abducted the missionaries on Saturday from an orphanage in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Croix-des-Bouquets, per CNN. Mawozo means "from the countryside," an homage to the group's roots. In recent years, gang members have moved from cattle theft to car theft to kidnappings for ransom.

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  • A shock: More than 600 such kidnappings have been reported since January in Haiti, and most victims are Haitians. But the scale of the latest mass kidnapping has "shocked officials for its brazenness," reports the New York Times. The one silver lining is that the kidnappings are purely for financial motive, meaning victims are likely to be freed eventually. The kidnappers are reportedly in communication with the FBI in addition to Haitian officials. President Biden is being briefed.
  • The experience: One unidentified Haitian businessman who was abducted by 400 Mawozo tells the Times that he was held without food for the first four days and frequently beaten with the handles of machetes or guns. He said children around 10 years old were among the kidnappers who beat him. He was freed after 12 days for a ransom of $70,000, instead of the $5 million demanded.
  • Anger: Haiti is gripped by chaos and violence—as evidenced by the recent assassination of the Haitian president—and a national transportation union brought Port-au-Prince to a virtual standstill on Monday with a strike demanding better security. "If the prime minister can’t fulfill our demands, we will call on him to resign," says the union's leader. "We want the end of insecurity and the end of the kidnappings."
(Read more Haiti stories.)

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