More than a dozen civilians and five aid workers were abducted when gunmen raided a shelter for the homeless in Haiti on Tuesday, reports said, as gunmen were continuing to hold three Americans hostage.
Members of a Christian charity, Plan International, working in the lawless Tocontinje district, told local media they had been freed after more than a dozen hostages were released.
Gunmen broke into the shelter for the homeless, where some 120 people were sleeping and some were being trained in vocational skills, and took most of them hostage.
A spokeswoman for Plan International confirmed that the area surrounding Tocontinje, in Céren, was also a security risk. “Plan International is working with the Government of Haiti, and its partners, in a real effort to rescue those still held hostage,” she said.
On Tuesday, four of the Americans held in Haiti were being fed health checks by an Australian paramedic, who said earlier that the couple were in good condition. The paramedic, who spoke to the couple on Tuesday, said he was also providing them with toiletries and tablets. “They’re just exhausted,” he said.
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The Bauers, from Idaho, had spent six years in an Egyptian prison for illegally crossing into that country on a kayak, which was overturned by police. They were arrested after a brief encounter with Egyptian authorities on the border between Egypt and Israel. They were accused of illegally entering and camping on Egyptian territory and sentenced to three years in prison, which Egypt is expected to uphold at its general conference next month.
The hostage release came after days of negotiation between local and foreign officials. Haitian government spokesman Damien Verger said on Wednesday that there had been a “positive evolution” in the negotiations for the release of the Americans, but gave no other details.
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Members of local aid groups said the volunteers in Tocontinje were all Christians and involved in charity work. The area has been prone to violence, with nine assassinations of local pastors in the past five years, according to the national police spokesman, Lewis Benites.
Benites said Wednesday that three people were still being held in Tocontinje. Their names have not been released.
It is not known how long the American hostages have been held, but families in Idaho reported that the couple and their children had been taken to Haiti, though it is not known how long they have been there.