Last of 17 North American hostages in Haiti freed

The remaining 12 of 17 North Americans kidnapped in Haiti in October have been freed, police said Thursday, after weeks of negotiations with the “400 Mawozo” criminal gang.

“We confirm the release of the 12 people who remained” hostages, police spokesman Gary Desrosiers told AFP by telephone. “We cannot give more details at the moment.”

The missionaries and family members – a group of 16 Americans and one Canadian – were abducted on October 16 while returning from an orphanage in an area east of the capital Port-au-Prince controlled by “400 Mawozo,” one of Haiti’s most powerful crime gangs.

READ | Haiti gang leader threatens to kill American hostages

Two of them were released in November, and another three were freed earlier this month.

Christian Aid Ministries, which is based in the US state of Ohio, has said the hostages were 12 adults aged 18 to 48, and five children ranging in age from eight months to 15 years.

“We glorify God for answered prayer – the remaining twelve hostages are free!” the group said on its website.

“Join us in praising God that all seventeen of our loved ones are now safe.”

The kidnappers had originally demanded a ransom of one million dollars per hostage, supplies told AFP.

FBI agents, Haitian authorities and the anti-kidnapping unit of the national police had been negotiating with the gang.

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