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Haiti gang boss threatens to kill kidnapped missionaries

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (AP)

The infamous Haitian gang boss, who was accused of kidnapping 17 members of a US-based missionary group last weekend, warned that hostages would be killed if his demands were not met.

In a video posted on social media Thursday, gang leader Wilson Joseph said, “If I don’t get what I’m looking for, I swear to put a bullet in the heads of these Americans.” Said.

Officials said earlier this week that 400 Mawozo gangs were demanding $ 1 million for each of the kidnapped people, but it wasn’t clear if that would include the group’s five children. .. Sixteen Americans and one Canadian were abducted along with a Haitian driver.

Joseph also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the Haitian National Police Chief while speaking in front of a casket that appeared to contain several members of the recently killed gang.

“You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you cry blood,” he said.

Later that day, Henry’s office announced that Leon Charles had resigned from the Haitian National Police and replaced Franz Elbe. The newspaper Le Nouvelliste said Elbe was the chief of police in the southeast and Nip’s and was formerly the general security coordinator of the National Palace when Jocelerme Privert was interim president.

“We hope that public peace will be restored, we will return to normal life, and we will regain the path to democracy,” Henry said.

There were no immediate comments from Charles or Elbe.

The missionary, who was abducted on Saturday during a visit to the orphanage, is with an Ohio-based Christian Aid ministry who held a press conference before Joseph’s video was posted.

Weston Shawalter, a religious group spokesman, said the families of the kidnapped people were Amish, Mennonites in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Ontario, Canada. He said he came from another conservative Anabaptist community. He read a letter from a family unidentified by name and said, “God gives our loved ones a unique opportunity to carry out our Lord’s command to love your enemies. “.

This group invites people to join them not only for the kidnapped people, but also for the kidnapped people, and thank them for their help from “knowledgeable and experienced people” in such situations. Represented.

“Pray for these families,” said Shaw Alter. “They are in a difficult situation.”

The organization later issued a statement not to comment on the video.

The threat of gang leader killings has already raised serious concerns in and around Holmes County, Ohio, where Christian Aid Ministry is based and Amish, conservative Mennonites, and related groups are most concentrated in the country. I did. Many members of these groups have supported the organization through donations and volunteer activities in the warehouse.

Marcus Yoda, executive director of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Millersburg, said: ..

According to civil protection agencies such as the Haiti ombudsman, the gang also kidnapped a university professor in Haiti on the same day that the missionaries were kidnapped. He also said the Haitian minister, who was abducted earlier this month, was not released despite the ransom paid.

The criminals “act completely exempt and attack all members of society,” the agency said.

UNICEF said Thursday that 71 women and 30 children had been kidnapped so far this year. This is more than 59 women and 37 children abducted last year as a whole. “They represent one-third of the 455 abductions reported this year,” officials said.

“There is no longer a safe place for Haiti children,” UNICEF’s Latin American and Caribbean Regional Director, Jean Goff, said in a statement. “Girls and boys are at risk of being kidnapped anywhere, day or night, on their way to school, at home, in church.”

Meanwhile, in Haiti’s capital, hundreds of demonstrators blocked roads and burned tires in protest of a serious fuel shortage and growing anxiety and demanding the resignation of the prime minister.

In addition to the abduction, gangsters have been accused of blocking gas distribution terminals and hijacking supply trucks, officials say they have led to fuel shortages. Digicel Haiti CEO announced this week that 150 of 1,500 branches nationwide are not using diesel, as many gas stations remain closed for several days at a time and fuel shortages are so disastrous. Did.

Alexandre Simon, an English and French teacher, said he and others were protesting because of the dire situation facing the Haitians.

“There are many people who can’t eat,” he said. “I don’t have a job … there are many things we don’t have.”

___

Associated Press writer Dánica Coto of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Kantel e Franko of Columbus, Ohio, and Peter Smith of Pittsburgh contributed to this report.

Haiti gang boss threatens to kill kidnapped missionaries

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