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Haiti gang demands $1M ransom for each kidnapped US missionary

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The Haiti gang responsible for kidnapping over a dozen U.S. missionaries is demanding a $1 million ransom per person, according to reports citing a top Haitian official.

According to the Associated Press, a member of the 400 Mawozo gang contacted an official with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries shortly after the kidnappings occurred on Saturday, presenting the terms of the ransom.

Among the 17 missionaries being held captive are five children, ranging in ages from eight months to 15-years-old. It is not yet clear whether the requested ransom pertains to the children as well.

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The ministry organization confirmed the ages of the adults as ranging from 18 to 48. As for the nationality of the abductees, the ministry told the AP that sixteen are American and one is Canadian.

“This group of workers has been committed to minister throughout poverty-stricken Haiti,” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement.

The missionaries were recently helping to rebuild homes that were destroyed during the massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the island country in August.

The recent wave of kidnappings comes amid an economic and political crisis in the country, following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and the deadly August earthquake that decimated large parts of the region.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki discussed the kidnappings Tuesday, saying that the FBI is leading the government’s efforts “to get the U.S. citizens involved to safety.”

“Kidnapping is widespread [in Haiti] and victims regularly include U.S. citizens,” Psaki said during the White House press briefing. “We know these groups target U.S. citizens who they assume have the resources and finances to pay ransoms, even if that is not the case,” she continued.

The State Department and FBI are working in tandem with Haitian law enforcement in Port-au-Prince.

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