Haitian kidnappers threaten to kill missionaries

The leader of the Haitian gang who detains 17 people associated with an American missionary group has threatened to kill the hostages if...

The leader of the Haitian gang who detains 17 people associated with an American missionary group has threatened to kill the hostages if his ransom demands are not met, according to two people present at the time of the threat and captured in a video recording.

“I’d rather the thunder burn me, if I don’t get what I need.” You see these Americans, I’d rather kill them and fire a big gun at each of their heads, ”the leader of the gang known as 400 Mawozo, Wilson Joseph, said in the video. “I think what I said, that’s it.”

Mr. Joseph was speaking to a crowd of hundreds of open-air gang members in the streets of Croix-des-Bouquet, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, according to two people present when the comments were made. The audacity of the remarks made in public at a large rally as American officials worked with their Haitian counterparts to free the hostages, underscores the growing weight and confidence of Haitian gangs, which control much of the capital.

The threat was contained in a video circulating Thursday in Haiti, where 16 Americans and a Canadian working with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped on Saturday. It emerged as the FBI and State Department were working to secure the release of the hostages, five of whom are children.

A senior State Department official traveling with the Secretary of State to South America told reporters Thursday night that the video appeared legitimate. The manager took the floor on condition of not being identified due to travel protocols.

Earlier this week the kidnappers asked for $ 1 million for each hostage. But in Haiti, where kidnappings are rife, the initial ransom demand often bears no resemblance to what is ultimately negotiated.

The video, shot in the rue de Croix-des-Bouquet where the hostages were taken, was confirmed by a person who recorded the video and another who was present when the threat was made. What is not shown in the video is the size of the crowd, which those present said numbered in the hundreds.

Video shows Mr. Joseph at the funeral of five gang members who were killed in a clash with police earlier this month. Mr. Joseph is dressed in a purplish blue suit, wearing a metal cross and holding a wide-brimmed hat.

Mr. Joseph uses the gang name Lanmò Sanjou, which roughly translates from Creole as “no day to die”.

Some of the gang members wore T-shirts with the names of their murdered colleagues printed on the front and pictures of a gun and knife printed on the back with the words “we will move forward”, according to one of the gang members. eyewitnesses.

The funeral was held at the neighborhood Catholic church, the eyewitness added, and as the gang members walked out of the church onto the streets, many began to put hoods on their faces to hide their identities. .

As the burials began in the cemetery, the mob of gang members fired into the air so relentlessly that neighborhood residents believed Haitian police and US officials were leading a raid and taking cover, he added. ‘one of the eyewitnesses.

In the menacing video, Mr. Joseph stands next to a man in a white jacket, the leader of a gang controlling another neighborhood, highlighting the disturbing alliances armed criminal groups are forging to confront weak and underprivileged Haitian police. equipped. By some estimates, gangs control about half of Port-au-Prince and its suburbs.

The US government has a team on the ground in Haiti working with the US embassy and local authorities to recover the hostages, the White House and law enforcement said.

In a separate development Thursday, the director general of the Haitian police, Léon Charles, resigned without giving a reason, after 11 months of work. He was quickly replaced by Frantz Elbé, a relatively unknown police officer.

Mr. Charles’s resignation came almost four months after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. The assassination of the Haitian president remains unsolved and the government investigation into the crime has stalled.

Mr Charles’s resignation has been a key demand from Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s allies since September, when opposition parties signed a political deal with Mr Henry.

Also on Thursday, a Jamaican police official confirmed the arrest of Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios in Jamaica for exceeding his visa. Mr. Palacios is a suspect in the assassination of Mr. Moïse and is wanted by Interpol.

André Paultre contributed reporting from Port-au-Prince, Oscar Lopez from Mexico City and Lara Jakes aboard an American military plane.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Haitian kidnappers threaten to kill missionaries
Haitian kidnappers threaten to kill missionaries
Newsrust - US Top News
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