Three more of the 17 Christian Aid Ministries missionaries kidnapped in Haiti on Oct. 16 were released Sunday night, the Ohio-based international aid ministry announced Monday as it urges continued prayers for 12 colleagues still held captive by the notorious 400 Mawozo gang.
“We are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night,” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement Monday morning.
“Those who were released are safe and seem to be in good spirits,” the organization added. “As with the previous release, we are not able to provide the names of the people released, the circumstances of the release, or any other details.”
The nonprofit urged supporters to participate in fasting and prayer over the next three days for the remaining hostages.
“Please continue to intercede for those who are still being held as well as those who have been released,” the statement reads. “We long for all the hostages to be reunited with their loved ones. Thank you for your prayer support.”
The news comes just two weeks after the gang released two missionaries described as sick adults.
A source with knowledge of the first two releases told The Miami Herald that no ransom was paid even though the 400 Mawozo gang leader Wilson Joseph had threatened to kill all the missionaries if his group did not receive $1 million each for their release.
When the kidnapping occurred, the abducted group included six men, six women and five children, of which 16 are Americans and one is Canadian. They range in age from 8 months old to 48 years.
While negotiations for their release were ongoing between the gang and officials from Haiti and U.S. governments, a video of Joseph circulated on social media showing that the crime boss wasn’t pleased with the pace of negotiations.
“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 threatened in late October, according to a translation cited by Bloomberg Quicktake.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a press briefing late last month that President Joe Biden continued to be briefed daily about the missionaries’ status and noted that the president is particularly concerned about the five children who were abducted.
“I personally give an update on this issue every single day to the president, who is taking a deep interest in making sure we get every single one of those people home safely,” Sullivan said.
Shortly after the kidnapping, three FBI agents were deployed to Haiti. Since then, Sullivan said the U.S. has sent “a significant number of law enforcement specialists and hostage recovery specialists to work closely with the ministry, the families and the Haitian government to try to coordinate and organize a recovery.”
“We are looking at every possible option for how to go about doing that,” Sullivan explained. “I will be sensitive to what obviously is a delicate situation, not say more here, other than we have put the assets and resources in place that we believe can help bring this to a successful conclusion.”