Illustration of a pastor being threatened in Haiti.
A gang leader threatened to kill a pastor who was taking food for a group of missionary workers kidnapped in Haiti in an incident that Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant described as an “act of terror”.
Al Jazeera reported that the incident took place in the hills of the remote Haiti village of Toussaint Louverture, where the gang believed to be holding the 12 missionaries has reportedly taken them in a camp. The 12 humanitarian workers are based in a Haiti community dedicated to improving people’s lives by helping with farming, building and education.
“The gang leader demands…that if he [the hostages] do not comply with all the demands within 24 hours, he will kill the workers, including a pastor who is taking food and medicines for the hostages,” a local source told Al Jazeera.
Once the group of students was seized, an evangelical minister in Haiti told a TV station that he received a phone call from the gang demanding 100,000 lempiras (£1200) to release them.
Local officials said they had returned to the compound to bring food.
“We know that missionaries are back inside the camp with humanitarian workers and police are on the way. What we don’t know is if they will be back tomorrow or the next day,” Jean-Marc Ricke, the head of Haiti’s civil protection agency, told Al Jazeera.
The missionaries on the camp live with the six teenage boys and are serving as de facto educators while their teachers are away, the Observer reported.
The missionaries were captured after they left a school in Haiti to gather supplies for a team of Nigerian missionaries who work in Haiti.
Christian Charities, the British aid group whose employees were on the mission, said they were “deeply concerned” and had contacted authorities to find out if the injured children were among the missing group.
Haiti has battled drug gangs and prostitutes for years but is also becoming overrun by black magic.
Haiti has been hit by a measles outbreak, with more than 100 deaths recorded in the provinces of Grande Anse and Cite Soleil since February.
Last year, the UN approved a new strategy to drive out non-peacekeeper human traffickers who prey on children, including paedophiles who stage attacks in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince.
A UN mission in Haiti began in 2004 to help police the country after former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier fled Haiti, ending decades of rule marked by corruption, human rights abuses and decades of political instability.