PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – The remaining members of a group of United States missionaries kidnapped two months ago in Haiti have been released, Haitian police and religious groups said Thursday.
Haitian police spokesman Gary Desrosiers confirmed the release of the remaining hostages to The Associated Press, but did not provide further details at this time.
“We thank God for hearing our prayers – the remaining 12 hostages are free,” the Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) group wrote in a statement. “All 17 of our loved ones are already safe.”
A caravan of at least a dozen vehicles, including pickup trucks from the US Embassy and the Haitian National Police, brought missionaries to Port-au-Prince airport on Thursday afternoon from the missionary group’s offices in Titanian, north.
A few hours earlier, people could be seen hugging and smiling inside the facilities of Christian Aid Ministries.
News of their release quickly spread to Berlin, Ohio, where CAM is based.
“This is the answer to prayer,” said Ruth Miller, who worked at the front desk for the city’s Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center.
Berlin is located in the Amish heartland of Holmes County, Ohio, and many Amish and Mennonites volunteer and donate to CAM ministries.
Wes Kaufman, who attends a church where some CAM leaders also meet, said several congregations had heard the mission group’s recent request to fast for three days and pray for the condition.
“It’s amazing the way God works,” said Kaufman as he dined with his family at Walnut Creek in Der Duchmann, a restaurant serving traditional Amish and Mennonite cuisine.
In Washington, White House Deputy Chief Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre praised the work of security agents and Haitian officials who helped free the hostages. “We are glad that they are free and that they are getting the necessary care after their exams,” he said.
The missionaries were kidnapped on 16 October by the 400 Mawzo gang. The group of 16 US citizens and one Canadian included five children, including an eight-month-old. According to a local human rights organization, their Haitian driver was also kidnapped.
The leader of the 400 Mawjo gang had threatened to kill the hostages if their demands were not met. Authorities indicated that the gang was demanding a ransom of one million dollars per person, although it was unknown whether the group’s children were involved.
It was currently unknown on Thursday whether the ransom was paid or how the hostages were released.
Carleton Horst, a member of the Hart congregation, said parishioners received a text message on Thursday morning from “someone connected with the situation”, saying that all hostages had been released.
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