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U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti released by gang

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By Reuters

<div> <p>By Gessika Thomas and Brian Ellsworth</p> <p><span class="caps">CAP</span>-<span class="caps">HAITIEN</span>, Haiti -The last 12 Canadian and American missionaries from a group kidnapped in October in Haiti have been released, police said on Thursday, ending an ordeal that brought global attention to the Caribbean nation’s growing problem of gang abductions. </p> <p>The group, which was abducted by a gang known as 400 Mawozo after visiting an orphanage, originally numbered 17 people on a trip organized by Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries (<span class="caps">CAM</span>). </p> <p>Five of the hostages had already been freed in recent weeks, and the final dozen were found by authorities on a mountain called Morne à Cabrit, said police spokesman Garry Derosier. </p> <p>“Join us in praising God that all seventeen of our loved ones are now safe,” <span class="caps">CAM</span> said in a statement. “Thank you for your fervent prayers throughout the past two months.” </p> <p>The 400 Mawozo gang, which controls territory to the east of the capital Port-au-Prince, had said it was seeking a ransom of $1 million for each of the missionaries. </p> <p>The gang’s leader, who goes by the nickname Lanmo Sanjou and has appeared in internet videos wearing a Spider-Man mask, had said he was willing to kill the hostages.</p> <p>It was not immediately clear whether any ransom was paid. Asked about the issue, Desrosiers said he could not provide any further details on the release.</p> <p>White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said of the missionaries: “We welcome reports that they are free and getting the care they need after their ordeal.” </p> <p>The 400 Mawozo, a self-mocking name that loosely translates to “400 idiots,” started out as local thieves in the Croix-de-Bouquets area east of the capital before growing into one of the country’s most feared gangs.</p> <p>Gangs have extended their control of territory in Haiti since the assassination in July of President Jovenel Moise. One gang coalition in October created a nationwide fuel shortage by blocking access to storage terminals. </p> <p>Haitians say everyone from well-heeled elites to working class street vendors face the threat of abduction by the gangs. </p> </div>