Haiti gang leader threatens to kill kidnapped missionaries

Protesters carry a banner with a message that reads in Creole: "No to kidnappings, no to violence against women! Long live Christian Aid Ministries."
Protesters carry a banner with a message that reads in Creole: "No to kidnappings, no to violence against women! Long live Christian Aid Ministries," demanding the release of kidnapped missionaries, in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. A group of 17 U.S. missionaries including children was kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Oct. 16. [Joseph Odelyn / AP]

The Associated Press

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that Haitian police say kidnapped 17 members of a missionary group is seen in a new video saying he will kill them if his demands are not met.

The video posted Thursday on social media shows Wilson Joseph dressed in a blue suit, carrying a blue hat and wearing a large cross around his neck.

He also threatens Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of Haiti’s National Police while speaking in front of coffins holding several members of his gang who were recently killed.

At Christian Aid Ministries in Holmes County, Ohio, where the missionary group is based, members observed a day of prayer and fasting.

"God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord's command to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you," ministries spokesman Weston Showalter read from a letter signed by the families of the abducted.

The families are trying to keep their spirits up, Showalter said.

"They continue to band together and support each other with prayers and encouragement during this diffciult time," he said. "It's amazing how times of difficulty have a way of bringing people together."

Authorities have said the gang is demanding $1 million per kidnapped person. Five children including an eight-month-old infant are among the 16 Americans and one Canadian who were kidnapped.

Lawmakers including Ohio Congressman Bob Gibbs and Sen. Sherrod Brown are working with federal agencies to secure the hostages' release.

Ideastream Public Media's Glenn Forbes contributed to this report.

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