A Haitian gang that kidnapped a group of missionaries including 16 American and 1 Canadian is asking for $17 million to release them, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing a Haitian official.
The official said the FBI and Haitian police are in contact with the kidnappers and seeking the release of the missionaries from Christian Aid Ministries, abducted over the weekend outside the capital Port-au-Prince by a gang.
Negotiations could take weeks, the official told the Journal. At the White House, Tuesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki would share few specifics -
“And I can't get into too many details operationally here because that's never - has never been - in the interests of bringing people home who are being held for ransom. What I can reiterate, Kristen, is that the FBI is a part of a coordinated U.S. government effort to get the U.S. citizens involved to safety. Also that the U.S. embassy in Port au Prince is coordinating with local authorities and providing assistance to the families to resolve the situation.”
Kidnappings have become more brazen and commonplace in Haiti amid a growing political and economic crisis, with more than 600 incidents in the first nine months of 2021 alone, according to a report by a Haitian nonprofit.
Haitians on Monday mounted a nationwide strike to protest gang crime and kidnappings, which have been on the rise for years and have worsened since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise.