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Haiti gang leader threatens to kill kidnapped missionaries if ransom not met

Ontarian among the 17 members of kidnapped missionary group

People protest for the release of kidnapped missionaries in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Tuesday.

People protest for the release of kidnapped missionaries in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Tuesday.

Photo: AP / Joseph Odelyn

RCI

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that police in Haiti say is holding 17 members of a kidnapped missionary group is seen in a video released Thursday saying he will kill them if he doesn't get what he's demanding.

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

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, he said in the video.

He also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of Haiti's National Police, Leon Charles, as he spoke in front of the open coffins that apparently held several members of his gang who were recently killed.

You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I'm going to make you guys cry blood, he said.

WATCH | Growing concern as kidnappers demand ransom:

Earlier this week, authorities said that the gang was demanding $1 million US per person, although it wasn't immediately clear that included the five children in the group, among them an eight-month-old. Sixteen Americans and one Canadian were abducted, along with their Haitian driver.

The missionaries are with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, which held a news conference before someone posted the video of the gang leader.

Weston Showalter, spokesperson for the religious group, said that the families of those who'd been kidnapped are from Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist communities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Ontario.

He read a letter from the families, who weren't identified by name, in which they said, God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord's command to love your enemies.

Weston Showalter, spokesperson for Christian Aid Ministries, speaks to the media at a news conference in Millersburg, Ohio, on Thursday.

Weston Showalter, spokesperson for Christian Aid Ministries, speaks to the media at a news conference in Millersburg, Ohio, on Thursday.

Photo: (Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters)

The group invited people to join them in prayer for the kidnappers as well as those kidnapped and expressed gratitude for help from people that are knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with such situations.

A street vendor walks past tires set fire at a closed gas station as part of a protest against fuel shortages in Port-au-Prince on Thursday.

A street vendor walks past tires set fire at a closed gas station as part of a protest against fuel shortages in Port-au-Prince on Thursday.

Photo: (Joseph Odelyn/The Associated Press)

Many gas stations now remain closed for days at a time, and the lack of fuel is so dire that the CEO of Digicel Haiti announced on Tuesday that 150 of its 1,500 branches countrywide are out of diesel.

Nothing works! complained Davidson Meiuce, who joined Thursday's protest. We are suffering a lot.

Some protestors held up signs including one that read, Down with the high cost of living.

Demonstrators clashed with police in some areas, with officers firing tear gas that mixed with the heavy black smoke rising from burning tires that served as barricades.

Alexandre Simon, a 34-year-old English and French teacher, said he and others are protesting because Haitians are facing such dire situations.

There are a lot of people who cannot eat, he said. There is no work ... There are a lot of things we don't have.

The Associated Press

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