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Morning at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de l’Assomption in Cap-H

US Missionaries, Children Taken Captive in Haiti Likely for $1M Ransom Each

US officials are said to be working with Haitian authorities to secure the release of 12 adults and five children, 16 are Americans and one Canadian, abducted on Saturday by a gang known for ransoming victims.

17 Ohio-based missionaries abducted in Haiti, likely to be ransomed for millions

In the suburbs of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 17 missionaries were forced from a bus at gunpoint after visiting an orphanage on Saturday. The abductees were part of an Ohio-based group called Christian Aid Ministries, which included 16 Americans and 1 Canadian. In total, there were five men, seven women, and five children kidnapped. the youngest child was two years old, Reuters reported.

Well-known gang believed to be behind kidnapping

A well-known gang known as the 400 Mawozo gang, which controls the Croix-des-Bouquets area east of the capital of Port-au-Prince, is believed to be behind the kidnapping, according to police inspector Frantz Champagne who spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday. The game has been associated with kidnappings, extortion, and killings.

Expert says hostages will be released, likely ransomed for $1 million per head

An expert from an advocacy group operating in Port-au-Prince, familiar with the operations of the gang, believes the kidnappers will ask as much as $1 million per hostage, the New York Times reported.

“The hostages are going to be freed, that’s for sure,” Gedeon Jean, the executive director for the Center for Analysis and Research and Human Rights said. “We don’t know in how many days, but they’re going to negotiate.”

“The 400 Mawozo gang don’t want to kill the hostages,” Jean continued. “Nowadays the gangs, especially in a situation that is a little financially vulnerable, they increase the kidnappings to have enough money.”

“So the motive behind the surge in kidnappings for us is a financial one,” Jean added. “If the gangs need money to buy ammunition, to get weapons, to be able to function.”

Abductees part of well-funded, Ohio-based global missionary group

The 17 kidnapped victims belong to Christian Aid Ministries, based out of Ohio, a global organization operating in 126 countries. The ministry is said to be well-funded, largely through donations, reporting revenue in 2019 of over $130 million.

The group was founded by Amish and Mennonites in 1981 “to be a trustworthy and efficient channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.”

US officials reportedly negotiating release

Officials from the United States are working with Haitian authorities to try to secure the release of the kidnapped missionaries, Fox reported.

Officials from the US State Department confirmed on Sunday that 16 Americans and one Canadian missionary were kidnapped.

The State Department said US embassies do not release information about citizens due to privacy regulations, Reuters reported.

However, a senior US official spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the American government is in touch with Haitian authorities and working to resolve the case and hostage negotiators were reportedly summoned.

“We need to track down where they are and see if negotiations – without paying ransom if possible,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN. “Or do whatever we need to do, on a military front or a police front.”