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26803: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti-Kidnappings (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Dec 8 (AP) -- A senior member of ousted President Jean
Bertrand Aristide's party said he was released four days after he was
kidnapped -- one of 30 people abducted during the last week in the
increasingly violent country.
Emmanuel Cantave, leader of the Lavalas Family party, told The
Associated Press on Wednesday that he was held by armed gangs in the Cite
Soleil slum on the northern outskirts of the capital.
Cantave said his party and his family pooled a ransom of more than
$25,000 to set him free on Tuesday.
His release came as abductions surged in the capital, a month before
national elections scheduled for Jan. 8.
"We registered 30 cases of kidnappings for the whole of November and 30
cases just for the first week of December," police spokesman Frantz
Lerebours told reporters Wednesday.
Observers believe the real figures could be up to 10 times higher, since
many families prefer not to report cases and instead negotiate directly
Last week, 14 schoolchildren, a U.S. missionary and a Haitian journalist
were among about two dozen people who were taken hostage and then released
for ransom in the area.
Cite Soleil -- the country's largest slum, where about 200,000 people
live in squalid conditions -- remains a hub for violence plaguing the
Well-armed gangs allegedly close to Aristide clash nearly daily with
U.N. peacekeepers in armored vehicles.
The freshly released Cantave said gang members beat him and at one point
threatened to kill him, criticizing the Lavalas party leadership's choice
for the presidential elections.