Three of seven Catholic clergy kidnapped in Haiti released

Ten people were abducted in Croix-des-Bougets amid a surge of violence and kidnappings for ransom in recent months.

Kidnappings for ransom have surged in recent months in Port-au-Prince and other provinces [File: Valerie Baeriswyl/Reuters]

Three of the seven Catholic clergy who were kidnapped in Haiti more than a week ago have been released.

Ten people were abducted in Croix-des-Bouquets, a town northeast of the capital Port-au-Prince, on April 11, including the seven clergy.

The clergy abducted were a group of four priests and a nun from Haiti, as well as one priest and one nun from France.

The three non-clergy were members of the family of a Haitian priest, who was not among those kidnapped.

The kidnapped victims were “on their way to the installation of a new parish priest” when they were abducted, Mazile previously told AFP news agency, with the kidnappers demanding a $1m ransom for the group.

The news was given by Father Loudger Mazile, spokesman for the Bishop’s Conference for Haiti, on Thursday who also told AFP that the two French clergy had not been released.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is plagued by insecurity and natural disaster.

Kidnappings for ransom have surged in recent months in Port-au-Prince and other provinces, reflecting the growing influence of armed gangs in the Caribbean nation, which has been rocked by recent political unrest.

The rise in gang violence and political instability have recently drawn protesters onto the streets of Port-au-Prince.

Last week, Haiti’s government resigned and a new prime minister was appointed in the wake of the kidnappings, a move President Jovenel Moise said “will make it possible to address the glaring problem of insecurity and continue discussions with a view to reaching the consensus necessary for the political and institutional stability of our country”.

Haiti’s Catholic Church has slammed the government’s failure to act over the country’s unrest, decrying the nation’s “descent into hell”.

“The public authorities who are doing nothing to resolve this crisis are not immune from suspicion,” the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince said in a statement.

The abducted five priests belong to the Society of Priests of St James, which is based in France, their superior general, Paul Dossous, confirmed to AFP.

France has opened an investigation into the kidnappings, entrusting the case to France’s Central Office for the Fight against Organized Crime (OCLCO), which has jurisdiction over crimes committed against French citizens abroad.

Source: News Agencies