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On Monday, in Haiti, at least 17 people were kidnapped near the capital Port-au-Prince, while they were on a tourist bus: both the driver, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, and the passengers were kidnapped. According to the reconstructions, the latter were Turkish and Haitian citizens, but it is not yet clear whether they were tourists, aid workers or missionaries.
There have been no claims of the kidnapping but it is thought that it may have been carried out by members of the 400 Mawozo gang, the same that last October had kidnapped and held the 17 American missionaries hostage for almost two months, then released in conditions that are not quite. clear (the gang had asked for $ 1 million for each hostage, and it is unclear whether the amount was paid or not). In fact, Monday’s kidnapping took place near Croix-des-Bouquets, a town a few kilometers from Port-au-Prince, considered one of the cities where the gang is most present.
The 400 Mawozo is the biggest and powerful among the various present in Haiti: it is known for its kidnappings and the very high ransoms requested for the release of hostages. The latest kidnapping was last month, of a Dominican diplomat, who was released after four days. Like the other criminal gangs in Haiti, the 400 Mawozo strengthened especially after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, and took advantage of the serious crisis that followed and strengthened alliances with various local politicians. For several years the gang had controlled some important points and connections in Haiti, clashing with rival gangs for supremacy over the territory, sometimes with very violent fighting in which civilians were also killed.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, also affected by various natural disasters: months ago, criminal gangs had come to control most of the roads and ports of the capital, blocking the distribution of fuel and food to coerce the prime minister Ariel Henry to resign. In recent weeks, local authorities have launched a series of operations to counter the power of the gangs: several members of the 400 Mawozo have been killed or arrested. One of his bosses, who was arrested in 2015, was extradited to the United States a few days ago.
– Read also: One of the leaders of Haiti’s most powerful gang was extradited to the United States