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Gang Leader Threatens to Kill Missionaries in Haiti

Ohio group asks for prayers for kidnappers and victims
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 21, 2021 4:20 PM CDT
Gang Leader Threatens to Kill Missionaries in Haiti
A food street vendor walks past tires set fire Thursday at a closed gas station as part of a protest against fuel shortages in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.   (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

(Newser) – The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that police say is holding 17 members of a missionary group is seen in a video released Thursday saying he will kill them if he doesn't get what he’s demanding. The video posted on social media shows Wilson Joseph dressed in a blue suit, carrying a blue hat and wearing a large cross around his neck, the AP reports. "I swear by thunder that if I don't get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans," he said in the video.

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He also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles, as he spoke in front of the open coffins that apparently held several members of his gang who were recently killed. "You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I'm going to make you guys cry blood," he said. Earlier this week, authorities said the gang was demanding $1 million per person, though it wasn't immediately clear whether that included the five children in the group, among them an 8-month-old. Sixteen Americans and one Canadian were abducted, along with their Haitian driver. The missionaries are with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, which held a news conference before the video was posted.

Weston Showalter, a spokesman, said the families of those who'd been kidnapped are from Amish, Mennonite and other Anabaptist communities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Ontario, Canada. He read a letter from the families, which weren't named, in which they said, "God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord's command to love your enemies." The group invited people to join them in prayer for the kidnappers as well as those kidnapped and expressed gratitude for help from "people that are knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with" such situations. "Pray for these families," Showalter said. "They are in a difficult spot."

(Read more Haiti stories.)

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