December 6, 2021

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“If I don’t get what I need …”: Haitian gang leader threatens to kill 17 U.S. hostages

Haitian gang leader “400 Maoists” Who abducted 17 North American citizens On Saturday, east of the capital Port-au-Prince, hostages were to be hanged, a video taken Wednesday and shared on social media on Thursday.

“If I don’t get what I need, I’ll kill these Americans,” Wilson Joseph threatens in Creole, surrounded by several armed men in costume, all gathered in front of the coffin where the bodies of five members of the army lay. The mob he said was killed by police.

On Saturday, missionaries and members of their families, 16 U.S. citizens and a Canadian national were abducted on their way to an orphanage in the center of the area controlled by the militants.

Twelve adults and five child hostages

The Ministry of Christian Aid, which includes abducted missionaries, said the group included 12 adults aged 18 to 48 and five children aged 8 months, 3, 6, 13 and 15 years.

The kidnappers are demanding $ 17 million to free themselves, security sources have confirmed to AFP, which has demanded anonymity.

The United States classifies Haiti as a country in the Red Zone, which advises its citizens not to go there, especially because of the many kidnappings that “kidnappers often include American citizens”.

Since December 2020, Wilson Joseph has received a search notice from Haitian police for “murder, attempted murder, hijacking, vehicle theft and hijacking trucks.”

The rise of gangs

In the wake of the growing mob influence, Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Thursday decided to replace Haitian National Police (BNH) Director General Leon Charles, a source close to the prime minister told the AFP that the BNH has not yet been officially confirmed.

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For a long time only in the poorest districts of the capital, armed groups have, in recent months, extended their control, especially blocking access to oil terminals. On Thursday, groups of motorcycle taxi drivers stepped up barricades across Port-au-Prince to combat fuel shortages caused by mobs and forced them to stockpile on the black market.

An angry motorcycle taxi driver did not want to reveal his identity, instead of the legitimate price 201 court of “I now buy petrol for 1000 to 1500 kores (10 to 15 US dollars, editor’s note) per gallon”.

In early September, armed groups hijacked a dozen tankers at the exit of the only terminal in the country, one-third more accessible. Petroleum distributors have almost halted their operations after seizing their employees and risking losing more than 15,000 euros by truck.