The remaining Canadian and US members of a missionary group who kidnapped two months ago in Haiti have been liberated, Haitian police and the group said on Thursday.
Haiti National Police spokesman Gary Desrosiers confirmed the release of the hostages to The Associated Press but did not immediately provide further details.
“We praise God for the answered prayer – the remaining 12 hostages are FREE!” This was announced by the Christian aid organizations in a statement. “Join us in praising God that all 17 of our loved ones are now safe.”
The Ohio Group said they hope to provide more information later.
“We feel great,” said Ron Marks, pastor of Hart Dunkard Brethren Church in Hart, Michigan, which included some of the hostages.
Church member Carleton Horst said parishioners received a text Thursday morning from “someone connected to the situation” that all of the hostages had been released.
Among the hostages were a mother and four of her community children. Horst, who is friends with the family, said the church was happy and he was “happy that this part of things is finally over, just praise the Lord for it”.
The missionaries were kidnapped on October 16 by the 400 Mawozo gang. There were five children in the group, including an eight-month-old child. Of the abductees, 16 were US citizens and one was Canadian. Your Haitian driver was also kidnapped, according to a local human rights organization.
Two of the hostages were released in November and three more at the beginning of the month. They have not been identified, but members of the Hart Ward told local Michigan media that two were from Hart.
In addition to Michigan, the hostages come from Ontario, Wisconsin, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Oregon, according to the mission group.
Unclear whether ransom was paid
“Today is the day we hoped for and worked so hard for,” said Congressman Bill Huizenga, whose congressional district in western Michigan is part of Hart.
“I would like to thank the members of the hostage negotiation team for their care in securing the release of all hostages. This is a great day for families in Michigan and across the country concerned about the safety of their loved ones. “
The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang had threatened to kill the hostages if his demands were not met. Authorities said the gang asked for $ 1 million per person, although it was not clear if that included the children.
It remained unclear on Thursday whether the ransom was paid or what efforts led to the release of the hostages.