The head of the 400 Mawozo kidnap gang has threatened to kill the 17 U.S. Christian missionaries and their family members — including children they are holding if the one million dollar ransom for each of them will not be paid for their safe release.
Gang leader Wilson Joseph posted a video on social media Thursday threatening to kill all the hostages if their ransom demand is not given.
“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 said.
The victims were kidnapped by the kidnap group last October 16.
The “400 Mawozo” gang is also blamed for a rocketing number of kidnappings in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.
Sources said those kidnapped are members of the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries that include seven women and five kids aged as young as two.
The kidnapping occurred on Saturday while the victims were leaving an orphanage.
Local officials for their part revealed that the missionaries were taken from a bus on its way to the airport to drop some members off in the island nation’s capital Port-au-Prince before going to another location in Haiti.
A US State Department spokesperson said the US gov’t is now exerting efforts to ensure the release of the victims.
“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the spokesperson said.
Before the kidnapping, in August Haiti suffered a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that killed hundreds of people and leveled buildings.