PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Two of 17 abducted members of a missionary group have been freed in Haiti and are safe, “in good spirits and being cared for,” their Ohio-based church organization announced Sunday.
Christian Aid Ministries issued a statement saying it could not give the names of those released, why they were freed or other information.
“While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the 15 people who are still being held,” the group said.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman issued a statement on the hostage’s release Sunday.
“My heart breaks for the missionaries from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries who are currently in harm’s way. Today’s release of two hostages is a step in the right direction, but we must not rest until everyone in custody is released. Unfortunately, kidnapping in Haiti is an all-too common occurrence. The U.S. government needs a whole-of-government approach to address this problem, and I remain hopeful that this situation will be resolved with all hostages being released safely.”Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
The missionaries were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on Oct. 16. There are five children in the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. Their Haitian driver also was abducted.
The leader of 400 Mawozo gang has threatened to kill the hostages unless the gang’s demands are met. Authorities have said the gang was demanding $1 million per person, although it wasn’t immediately clear that included the children in the group.
The U.S. government has urged U.S. citizens to leave Haiti because of the country’s deepening insecurity and the severe lack of fuel. Canada announced Friday it was pulling all but essential personnel from its embassy.