A Haitian gang that kidnapped a group of American and Canadian missionaries is asking for $17 million to release them, an official has said.
Justice Minister Liszt Quitel said the FBI and Haitian police are in contact with the kidnappers and seeking the release of the missionaries abducted over the weekend outside the capital Port-au-Prince by a gang called 400 Mawozo, reports Reuters citing the Wall Street Journal.
Negotiations could take weeks, Quitel told the journal.
The group of 16 Americans and 1 Canadian includes six women and five children.
Kidnappings have become more brazen and commonplace in Haiti amid a growing political and economic crisis, with at least 628 incidents in the first nine months of 2021 alone, according to a report by the Haitian nonprofit Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, or CARDH.
Haitians on Monday mounted a nationwide strike to protest gang crime and kidnappings, which have been on the rise for years and have worsened since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise.