Haitian bishop threatens to kill kidnapped missionaries

Government hoping to rescue missionaries and two Haitian children held captive by gang of armed men A Haitian gang leader has threatened to kill four missionaries if the government does not find and release…

Haitian bishop threatens to kill kidnapped missionaries

Government hoping to rescue missionaries and two Haitian children held captive by gang of armed men

A Haitian gang leader has threatened to kill four missionaries if the government does not find and release the kidnapping victims.

The government hopes to rescue the five Americans and two Haitian children whose captors are believed to be members of a criminal gang operating in the impoverished Caribbean nation’s south.

The missionaries, who had planned to build schools and orphanages in Haiti, were travelling in three pick-up trucks when the convoy was ambushed by armed men on Sunday, authorities said. All were expected to be released, but that still hasn’t happened.

According to reports, five armed gunmen surrounded and hijacked the missionaries’ vehicles at around 4am.

Four of the women were shot, according to CNN. Three of the children were taken from the vehicles, also kidnapped.

The soldiers escorting the convoy of vehicles were fired upon and fled the scene, sparking a manhunt for the kidnappers. Meanwhile, the American government is working with local authorities to try to rescue the hostages.

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It is unclear whether local authorities are believed to have captured the kidnappers.

The US ambassador to Haiti, Paul Volpe, said in a statement: “We are all concerned about the security of the missing US citizens. Our embassy is working with authorities to assist in the rescue of our citizens.”

The American embassy in Port-au-Prince is collaborating with police, the Haitian government and other local authorities.

A Haitian priest called family members of the missing missionaries to offer prayers, according to CNN.

In an update to the Facebook post, Joseph Soto, a Houston-based missionary, said he reached Paul Soto, another American pastor from the Houston area, after the kidnapping.

He said the two discussed how the kidnappers were “railroading us” into believing the hostages were already dead.

“We’re just hopeful and waiting for the government to find us,” he told CNN.

The Americans were part of a group of 15 Christian missionaries from the Montana-based group SIM USA.

It has been the second abduction of foreigners in Haiti in recent weeks.

On 8 December two Spanish aid workers, Juan Carlos Labastida and Eufemia Bono, were seized outside their apartment in Port-au-Prince’s Cité Soleil neighbourhood. On the same day, the French charity First Aid for Haiti reported that its three staff in Port-au-Prince had been kidnapped.

The cases have been common in the traditionally lawless south of the country since the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed some 200,000 people. Haiti is not a signatory to a 2011 international pact to improve abductions.

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