Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

US-based church group welcomes the release of its members but says ‘our hearts are with the 15 people still detained’.

Two of the 17 Christian missionaries abducted in Haiti last month have been released in the United States, according to the group’s church organization.

In a statement Sunday, the Christian Aid Ministries said: “We have heard that two of the hostages have been released in Haiti.”

It said it could not give the names of those released, why they were released or give other information.

“While we are delighted with this release, our hearts are with the 15 people who are still being held,” it added.

The 16 Americans and one Canadian, including five children, were abducted in October after visiting an orphanage. Their Haitian driver was also taken hostage.

The leader of the gang that kidnapped the group threatened to kill the hostages unless his demands were met. Authorities said the gang, known as the 400 Mawozo, was demanding $ 1 million per person, although it was not immediately clear if it included the children in the group.

Haitian national police spokesman Gary Desrosiers confirmed that two hostages had been released on Sunday.

The FBI, which is assisting Haitian authorities in recovering the detainees, declined to comment.

The release comes as Haiti struggles with a rise in gang-related violence and kidnappings, with the U.S. government recently urging Americans to leave Haiti amid growing insecurity and a severe shortage of fuel to blame for gangs blocking gas distribution terminals .

Canada announced on Friday that it was withdrawing everything but essential personnel from its embassy.

The fuel shortage forced hospitals to turn patients away and paralyzed public transportation, with some schools closing and businesses shortening their working hours.

Haiti is also trying to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck in mid-August, killing more than 2,200 people and destroying tens of thousands of homes.

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