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26760: (news) Chamberlain: 11 Haitian school children kidnapped, released (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Gunmen commandeered a school
bus and kidnapped 11 children in Haiti on Thursday before releasing them
unharmed after receiving a small ransom, police said.
The children, including one holding U.S. citizenship, were on the
school bus when several gunmen stopped the vehicle, boarded it and took off
on a main road in the Santo neighborhood near Port-au-Prince, the director
for the judicial police, Michael Lucius, said.
"All 11 children have been released. They are all safe," Lucius told
Reuters by telephone.
"The bandits were demanding an important sum of money, but when they
realized we were on their track, they accepted 150,000 Haitian gourdes
(about $4,000) and released the kids," Lucius said.
Further details of the ransom payment were unavailable.
At least four other people have been kidnapped for ransom in
apparently unrelated incidents the past few days in Haiti, including a U.S.
missionary identified as Philip Snyder, according to media and police
reports. Snyder is a representative of Glow Ministries, headquartered in
Zeeland, Michigan, and was abducted while driving near the capital.
Lucius said Snyder's kidnappers demanded $300,000 for his release. He
urged residents to come forward with information that could help police
fight criminal gangs he described as "desperate for money."
Police sources said more than 1,000 people had been kidnapped for
ransom in Haiti since March, but authorities would not publicly release
kidnapping figures because they hoped to avoid panic among the public.
More than 7,000 U.N. peacekeepers and international police have been
deployed to Haiti to try to restore order since former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide was driven into exile during an armed revolt in
Delayed elections to replace a U.S.-backed interim government are now
set for January. The peacekeepers and Haitian authorities are still
struggling to quell violent clashes between gangs supporting or opposing
Aristide and to halt a wave of kidnappings and criminal violence in the
Many kidnappings go unreported because relatives often prefer to deal
directly with kidnappers to protect the lives of their loved ones.