Haitian kidnappers release kidnapped children, American missionary | VailDaily.com

Haitian kidnappers release kidnapped children, American missionary

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Gunmen have released 14 Haitian children and an American missionary who were abducted in separate incidents in the strife-torn nation, police said Friday.The missionary, Phillip Snyder, was released Friday after a ransom was paid, said police Commissioner Francois Henri Doussous, head of Haiti’s anti-kidnapping unit. He would not specify how much was paid but said it was “much less” than the $300,000 the kidnappers initially sought.The kidnappings came five weeks before national elections to restore democracy to Haiti, which has seen a sharp increase in abductions amid the chaos following the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.But Doussous said police did not believe the latest kidnappings were politically motivated. “This is purely criminal activity, the gangs need money,” he said.It was not immediately clear who paid the ransom for Snyder. Doussous said the kidnappers were members of criminal gangs based in Cite Soleil, a sprawling seaside slum that is a base for heavily armed gangs blamed for numerous kidnappings.Snyder, 48, was being treated for a gunshot wound to his arm, police said. The president of Zeeland, Mich.-based Glow Ministries International was abducted Thursday on the main road leading north from the Haitian capital.The gunmen released the children and their school bus driver unharmed Thursday night, hours after their bus was hijacked by gunmen on the way to school.Haitian radio reported that an unspecified ransom was paid, but Doussous said the gunmen received no money. He said they released the hostages because of intense public attention and because police checkpoints prevented them from returning to Cite Soleil on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.The children were aged 5-17. There were no arrests.Snyder’s wife, Amber, told The Associated Press Thursday that a boy, about 7 or 8 years old, may have been kidnapped along with her husband. She said her son, who lives in Haiti, had been negotiating with the kidnappers.Amber Snyder said her husband’s family has worked in Haiti for more than three decades helping the poor.Denny Bull, Amber Snyder’s uncle, said the family was relieved at the news of the missionary’s release.”We had confidence that this would happen. We just did not know when,” he said.—Associated Press writer David Runk in Detroit contributed to this report.Vail, Colorado

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