The chief of the Haitian gang suspected of kidnapping 17 members of a missionary group from the United States has threatened to kill the hostages if his calls for will not be met.
Wilson Joseph, chief of the 400 Mawozo gang, issued the ultimatum in a video posted on social media on Thursday.
“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” Joseph mentioned within the video.
Earlier this week, Haitian officers mentioned the gang is demanding $1m in ransom per individual to free the hostages.
Speaking in entrance of the coffins of gang members apparently killed by the police, Joseph threatened Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of National Police Leon Charles within the video,
“You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood,” he mentioned.
Al Jazeera correspondent Manuel Rapalo mentioned protests within the capital Port-au-Prince towards the deteriorating safety scenario in Haiti continued for the fifth day on Thursday.
Haitian staff went on a common strike on October 18 to protest worsening insecurity and gang violence after the kidnapping of the Christian missionaries.
“The concern now, especially after this video was published, is that tensions are going to continue to escalate; there’s fear that violence could worsen on the streets,” Rapalo mentioned.
The hostages had been kidnapped after leaving an orphanage exterior Port-au-Prince on October 16. Sixteen of the abductees are Americans and one is Canadian. Five of them are kids, together with an eight-month-old toddler.
Christian Aid Ministries, the Ohio-based missionary group whose members had been kidnapped, known as for a day of fasting and prayers for the hostages on Thursday, urging folks to hope for the abductees in addition to the abductors.
“Pray for the kidnappers, that they would experience the love of Jesus and turn to him, and we see that as their ultimate need,” mentioned Weston Showalter, a spokesperson for the group.
“We also ask for prayer for government leaders and authorities as they relate to the case and work toward the release of the hostages.”
Reporting from Millersburg, Ohio, Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, mentioned the kidnappings have been “stressful” for folks related to the missionary group.
“The people we’ve talked to have all expressed deep concern for those missionaries, particularly after the threat that was given by the leader of that kidnapping group,” Hendren mentioned.
One of the poorest nations on this planet, Haiti has been affected by periodic pure disasters, gang violence and a longstanding political disaster made worse by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July.
The nation has seen a surge in kidnappings through the previous weeks. Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH), a Haitian NGO, mentioned on Wednesday that not less than 119 folks had been kidnapped by legal gangs in Haiti through the first half of October, following 117 instances in September.
“Citizens do not trust the Haitian national police and this poses a problem because we cannot have an efficient police force if the population does not collaborate,” Gedeon Jean, CARDH director, instructed AFP earlier this week.
The US authorities has promised to work with Haitian authorities to free the American hostages.
“We have in the administration been relentlessly focused on this, including sending a team to Haiti from the State Department; working very closely with the FBI, which is the lead in these kinds of matters; in constant communication with the Haitian National Police, the church that the missionaries belong to, as well as to the Haitian Government,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned on Tuesday.
“And we will do everything that we can to help resolve the situation.”