The remaining members of a Christian missionary group were released by a Haitian gang, officials in the country said.
Haiti’s Minister of Justice Berto Dorcé confirmed the release of the 12 remaining hostages on Thursday (December 16), two months after a group of 17 members of the Christian Aid Ministries –– including 16 Americans and one Canadian citizen –– were captured by armed members of the 400 Mawozo gang.
The group was reportedly driving through the suburb of Croix des Bouquets, located just outside of Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince, after visiting an orphanage at the time of the kidnapping.
Two of the missionaries were released on November 21. Two weeks later another three hostages were freed, followed by the most recent release early Thursday morning.
Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that locals found the hostages and dropped them off at a nearby police station. After undergoing a medical check, the group was flown back to the US via a Coast Guard flight.
Gang leaders had originally demanded a $1 million ransom for each of the hostages. Multiple sources said a ransom was paid, though it was not paid by the US government and an exact amount is not known. One source said that the amount was far less than the original demands.
“We glorify God for answered prayer –– the remaining twelve hostages are FREE!” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement to CNN. “Join us in praising God that all seventeen of our loved ones are now safe. Thank you for your fervent prayers throughout the past two months. We hope to provide more information as we are able,” the statement said.