Haiti: Gang leader threatens to kill American missionary hostages if he doesn’t get $17 million

The leader of the gang that kidnapped 17 US and Canadian missionaries in Haiti has threatened to kill them if he doesn’t get what he wants, according to a video released on Thursday.

The video appears to show Wilson Joseph, who goes by the alias Lanmò Sanjou, or Death Without Days speaking at a funeral on Wednesday for gang members whom he alleges were killed by police, a Haitian security force said.

The missionary group, which includes several children, has been held captive since Saturday, kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang while traveling by car northeast of capital city Port-au-Prince.

Their captors have demanded $1 million per hostage, according to Haitian Justice and Interior Minister Liszt Quitel.

“We will not comment on the video until those directly involved in obtaining the release of the hostages have determined that comments will not jeopardize the safety and well-being of our staff and family members,” Christian Aid Ministries said on Thursday.

Among the kidnapped are an 8-month-old infant, a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old, as well as two young teenagers. All of the group’s members hail from Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist communities across six US states and Ontario, said Weston Showalter, an official with the mission organization Christian Aid Ministries.

At least 782 people were kidnapped in Haiti between the start of the year and October 16, including over 50 foreign nationals, according to the latest estimates by the Port-au-Prince organization Center for Analysis and Research for Human.

400 Mawozo in particular has become notorious for group kidnappings this year, forcing whole buses off the road.