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25237: Wharram - News - Canadian kidnapped and freed for ransom in Haiti (fwd)
>From Bruce Wharram <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Canadian kidnapped and freed for ransom in Haiti, third foreigner this
Fri May 27, 2:11 PM ET
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CP) - Armed men kidnapped a Canadian and released him
24 hours later when his family paid a ransom, police revealed Friday. It was
the third abduction of a foreigner in Haiti this month.
The Canadian man, whose identity was not released, was abducted Tuesday in
the capital of Port-au-Prince, said Gessy Coicou, a police spokeswoman. He
was freed Wednesday when his family paid an undisclosed ransom, she said.
"The parents refused our help, they wanted to do it all themselves," Coicou
said, declining to provide more details.
Canadian Embassy officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
However, the Department of Foreign Affairs has warned Canadians not to
travel to Haiti, saying "the security situation is dangerous and
"Kidnappings and carjackings are on the rise. The vast majority of victims
are Haitian business people, but there have been kidnappings involving
Canadians and other foreign nationals, including aid workers and children,"
says the advisory on the Foreign Affairs website.
Meanwhile, employees of the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince are under an
8 p.m. curfew.
The recent surge in kidnappings has compounded difficulties facing an
ill-equipped police force and a 7,400-member U.S. peacekeeping force
struggling to curb violence ahead of October and November general elections.
The U.S. State Department warned Americans on Thursday against travelling to
Haiti and instructed U.S. personnel whose jobs are not essential to leave,
the first such order since the February 2004 rebellion that ousted President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The State Department warned there was no effective
police force in much of Haiti.
The warning came a day after U.S. Embassy vehicle was shot at five times
while driving through Cite Militaire, a slum in the capital. The vehicle got
away and no one inside was injured, said U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mara
Tekach-Ball said the State Department's order was not based on the shooting,
saying there have been several violent incidents in the past months.
An Indian store owner kidnapped earlier this month is still missing.
Abductors released a Russian contractor after UN and Russian officials
Armed men kidnapped a Haitian police officer last weekend and killed him
when negotiations for his release broke down. Police officers pursuing the
abductors in the slum of Bel Air came under heavy gunfire from armed gangs.
One officer was killed.
UN officials have said at least 130 people were kidnapped in Port-au-Prince
in April. Statistics for May were not available.
At least 700 people - including 40 police officers - have been killed since
September, when Aristide supporters called for intensified protests to
demand his return from exile in South Africa.
Critics accuse the Haitian police of brutality, summary executions and
persecution of pro-Aristide loyalists. The interim government says the
police are outgunned and outnumbered by politically allied gangsters.