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A Haitian gang has released the remaining 12 hostages it had abducted — more than two months after they were kidnapped — their Ohio-based religious group announced Thursday.
“We glorify God for answered prayer—the remaining twelve hostages are FREE! Join us in praising God that all seventeen of our loved ones are now safe,” the organization, Christian Aid Ministries, said in a statement. “Thank you for your fervent prayers throughout the past two months. We hope to provide more information as we are able.”
Haiti National Police spokesman Gary Desrosiers also confirmed that the hostages had been found safe. He would not say where they had been taken.
Seventeen people working with the group were kidnapped in October by the 400 Mawozo gang, which controls the Ganthier commune in the suburb of Port-au-Prince where the missionaries were taken.
Christian Aid Ministries had previously said 16 U.S citizens and a Canadian citizen were kidnapped — six men, six women and five children.
The missionaries were taken as they were returning from an orphanage an hour and a half from the ministry’s base that is often visited by staff members.
The group, based in Millersburg, Ohio, repeatedly called for supporters to fast and pray for the hostages’ safe release, at one point this month encouraging Christians to fast for three days.
Haitian officials said the group’s leader was demanding $1 million per hostage, totaling $17 million. A video circulating on social media, which a U.S. official said appeared to be legitimate, threatened to kill hostages if the ransom demand wasn’t met.
Two of the missionaries were released last month, and three more were freed earlier this month.
Haiti has faced a series of disasters over the years, and the last several months have brought renewed hardships.
President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July, and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit in August.
And on Monday, a truck carrying gasoline exploded in northern Haiti, killing at least 75 people and injuring dozens of others. The explosion occurred as Haiti struggles with a severe shortage of fuel and spiraling gas prices, which recently forced hospitals to turn away patients and temporarily shut schools and businesses.
The governments of the U.S. and Canada have urged their citizens to leave while they still can.
Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
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