The United States has seen proof of life for some missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

The US government has seen evidence that at least some members of the group of American and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti last month are alive, according to a senior official in the Biden administration.

The official, who declined to be named, did not elaborate.

US officials have been spearheading efforts to safely retrieve the missionaries, who were on a trip organized by Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. Sixteen Americans and one Canadian, including five children, were abducted.

Details about the police effort have been scant since the Oct. 16 attack. US President Joe Biden is being briefed daily on the law enforcement effort, authorities said.

A Haitian man who identified himself as the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that security officials said was responsible for the kidnapping said in a video posted on YouTube last month that he was willing to kill “these Americans” if he did not obtain what I needed.

Police officers walk near the private residence of Haitian President Jovenel Moise after gunmen shot him dead with assault rifles, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 7, 2021 (credit: REUTERS / ESTAILOVE ST -VAL).

The missionaries were not present in the video.

Haitian officials have said the gang is demanding a ransom of $ 1 million per person. The 400 Mawozo started out as local petty thieves and grew into one of Haiti’s most feared gangs, controlling a swath of countryside east of the capital Port-au-Prince, according to security experts.

The incident has focused global attention on Haiti’s dire kidnapping problem, which has worsened amid economic and political crises and a spiral of violence.

In July, President Jovenel Moise was assassinated and in September the Prime Minister dissolved the electoral council, postponing the planned November elections. A new date has not yet been set.

The United States would like the country to move toward the elections, but believes more must be done first to improve the security situation and internal dialogue, the US official said.

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