Fourteen children kidnapped at gunpoint along with their bus driver on their way to school have been released unharmed, but an American missionary abducted in a separate incident remained in captivity, Haitian police said today.
The gunmen released the children and the driver last night, said police Commissioner Francois Henry Doussous, chief of the country’s anti-kidnapping unit.
Haitian radio reported that an unspecified ransom was paid, but Doussous said the gunmen received no money. He said they released the children and driver because of intense public attention and because police checkpoints prevented the kidnappers from returning with their hostages to their base in the Cite Soleil slum.
There were no arrests. “Mercifully, the gangs didn’t manage to bring them to Cite Soleil,” police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said.
The children, aged five to 17, were kidnapped the same day that Phillip Snyder, president of Zeeland, Michigan-based Glow Ministries International, was abducted while driving on a road north of the capital, Port Au Prince.
The kidnappings came five weeks before national elections to restore democracy to the troubled nation, which has seen a sharp increase in kidnappings amid the chaos following the ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.
Doussous said police were working to secure Snyder’s release.
“We have strong hopes that we will get him released today, that’s our goal,” Doussous said.