Two missionaries kidnapped by a dangerous street gang in Haiti last month have been released, according to a statement released by the US-based Christian Aid Ministries.
"We have learned that two of the hostages in Haiti were released. We praise God for this! Only limited information can be provided, but we are able to report that the two hostages who were released are safe, in good spirits, and being cared for," Christian Aid Ministries said Sunday.
"While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the fifteen people who are still being held," the statement also said.
On Oct. 16, 16 Americans and one Canadia were kidnapped by Haitian gang 400 Mawozo while traveling by van in the country's capital city of Port-au-Prince. Most of the missionaries are from Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist communities in the U.S. The Canadian is from Ontario.
Few details have been released by the missionary and the U.S. about negotiations to release the hostages. The U.S. doesn't pay ransom for kidnapped citizens.
Haitian Justice and Interior Minister Liszt Quitel told CNN that captors are demanding $1 million per hostage, but there was no word on if the missionary paid to have the two released.
Kidnappings for ransom are widespread in Haiti. The Caribbean nation is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. On a per-capita basis, it has the world's highest rate of kidnappings.
According to NYTimes, F.B.I. and the State Department have worked with local authorities to free the missionaries.
Haitian security forces are increasing efforts to combat gangs, but it would be an uphill battle with at least half of Port-au-Prince controlled by criminal organizations.