The United States will “do everything in its power” to free 17 North Americans who were kidnapped by a gang in Haiti. This was stated by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The kidnappers are demanding a ransom of $17 million.
“We are focused relentlessly on this issue,” Blinken said during a visit to Ecuador. We will do everything we can to resolve the situation.” He also adds that a team from the FBI is working on the file.
“Unfortunately, this is also a symptom of a much larger problem, where the security situation is simply untenable” in Haiti, Blinken said.
The seventeen – sixteen US citizens and one Canadian – were abducted on Saturday after visiting an orphanage in Croix-de-Bouquet, a suburb of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The gang called 400 Mawozo is now demanding a ransom of $1 million each, the equivalent of $17 million.
On Tuesday, the Haitian justice minister said that negotiations with the kidnappers were still ongoing.
Over 600 kidnappings already
Armed gangs, which had controlled the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince for years, expanded their scope of activity to include the rest of the capital and its suburbs. According to the Center for Analysis and Studies in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince, more than 600 kidnappings were recorded in the first three quarters of this year, compared to 231 in the same period in 2020.
A deep political crisis has crippled social and economic development in Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, for years. The assassination of President Jovenel Moyes on July 7 has caused chaos and instability in the Caribbean country.
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