Haiti gang leader threatens to kill kidnapped American missionaries

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The leader of the Haitian gang suspected of kidnapping 17 members of a missionary group from the United States has threatened to kill the hostages if his demands are not met.

The speaker in the video, dressed in a purple suit, is recognizable as the man known in Haiti by the alias Lamo Sanjou, the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that authorities say is behind the abduction of the missionaries at the weekend.

“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” Joseph said in the video.

Speaking in front of the coffins of gang members apparently killed by the police, Joseph threatened Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of National Police Leon Charles in the video,

“You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood,” he said.

The sixteen Americans and one Canadian – including five children – were on a trip organized by the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. The missionaries were not present in the video.

The White House said on Thursday it would do all it could to help the missionaries. “We will do everything that we can to help resolve the situation,” said White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

A senior State Department official told reporters that the video was legitimate.

“If you are a kidnapper, your job is to say those kind of things,” the official said. “We need to work with our Haitian law enforcement partners and the families and the institutions to try and move this process forward to a safe resolution.”

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