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Five priests, two nuns and three lay people were kidnapped in Haiti on Sunday, and their captors are demanding a ransom of $1 million.
The priests and sisters are members of the Society of Priests of St. Jacques and the Archdiocese of Cap Haitien. They were taken in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets, near the capital city, Port-au-Prince, when they were on their way to the installation of a new parish priest.
France activated its foreign ministry crisis center after the kidnapping, which included two French nationals.
The French Bishops’ Conference and other French clergy expressed “their deep concern” and urged “the kidnappers to free the men and women of peace they have kidnapped and not to add more hatred where there is already poverty and insecurity,” the Guardian reported.
Fr. Stevenson Montinard, priest of Saint Jacques, confirmed the news to Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, and asked for prayers for the release of Fathers Michel Briand (a French national), Jean Nicaisse Milien, Joël Thomas, Evens Joseph, and Jean-Hugues Baptiste (a priest of the Archdiocese of Cap Haitien and medical student) and Sister Agnès Bordeau, of the Congregation of Providence of Pommeraye, a French national, and Sister Anne Marie Dorcelus, of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Child Jesus.
Kidnapping cases occur daily in the country, which for years has faced a growing wave of insecurity, Fides said.
“This new case is a reflection of the collapse of the security apparatus of the State and the country. No one seems to be safe anymore,” a local Redemptorist priest, Fr. Renold Antoine, C.Ss.R, told the service. “Outlawed groups continue to sow fear and sadness in the hearts of the population.”
Police suspect that an armed gang active in the area, nicknamed “400 Mawozo,” is behind the kidnapping, Fides said. The Conference of Haitian Religious (CHR) reported that the three lay people kidnapped were relatives of another priest. “The CHR expresses its deep regret but also its anger at the inhumane situation we have been going through for more than a decade,” reads the statement.