Haiti: Remaining abducted Catholic clergy released

·2 min read
Parishioners pray in Saint Antoine Church, where Father Michel Briand, one of the religious kidnapped days ago, worked for decades, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 23 April
Parishioners held prayers after news of the kidnappings emerged

The remaining six of the 10 members of the Catholic clergy kidnapped in Haiti earlier this month have been released, a missionary group says.

The group, including four priests and a nun from Haiti and one priest and one nun from France, had been abducted near the capital Port-au Prince on 11 April.

The six are said to be in good health. The other four had already been freed.

The kidnappers had demanded a $1m (£722,000) ransom. It was not clear if it had been paid.

The attack happened in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets when the Catholic clergy were on their way to the installation of a new parish priest. A gang calling itself 400 Mazowo was believed to be behind the abduction.

Haiti's government resigned and a new prime minister, Claude Joseph, was appointed in the wake of the kidnappings.

"Our hearts are filled with joy because we have found our colleagues, the sisters and the family members of Father Jean Anel Joseph in good health," the Society of Priests of Saint Jacques said in a statement quoted by AFP news agency.

The group also thanked the ambassadors of France and the US "for their discreet and effective diplomatic contribution" as well as the country's authorities.

Kidnappings have surged in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, which has suffered from multiple natural disasters and political crises in recent decades. The Catholic Church describes the situation as "a descent into hell".

Religious groups have not been spared. On 1 April, armed men burst into a service at an evangelical church on the outskirts of the capital, abducting the pastor and three other people. The service was being live-streamed on social media at the time.

The four were released three days later after an undisclosed sum was paid in ransom but the brazenness of kidnapping a pastor in the middle of a service shocked many Haitians.

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Correction: A previous version of this story reported that seven, and not six, people had been released. The story has been updated with the correct number.