Two American missionaries are set to be released from Haiti after being abducted by armed men and held for over two weeks. The missionaries — Wixacken Boatner of Atlanta and Kevin Salter of Pensacola, Florida — have been accused of attempted murder and attempting to document child pornography during their trip to the south-eastern Caribbean nation. However, it remains unclear how they managed to escape their captors and eventually reach the United States.
[Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Boatner and Salter were working with the Caritas Haiti relief group. The two were members of another local Christian group, Salter was on a cycling trip with another person.]
“After numerous threats, threats against themselves, threats against their families and threats not to provide information about the incident they were involved in, we were contacted several days ago by the women who had been held captive,” says Tina Moore, a spokesperson for their relatives. “We cannot confirm that they were with the Caritas Haiti group. They may have been visiting a friend of theirs or a family member. We did obtain cell phone information but have not confirmed that they have their phones.”
“As of yesterday morning, there was an agreement of release,” Moore added. “It was confirmed with Haitian law enforcement and the missionaries will soon be leaving the country. They are being held in the U.S. at this time.”
Of the four members of the missionary group, this will be the only one returning to the United States. Two are detained in Haiti and the remaining two have managed to escape their captors and are now in the U.S. with assistance from the Chaldean church.
More than 100 armed gunmen forced the four people from their bus and then took them at gunpoint on August 15. Their driver had been beaten with an AK-47 and leg shackles were found in the area. Also taken were a 7-year-old girl and a pregnant woman. The Haitian government did not immediately confirm the details of the kidnapping, but Haitian police confirmed that the country’s President, Jovenel Moise, had been in contact with the kidnappers, CNN reported.
The employees of Medicos Migrantes, the Atlanta-based Christian organization that assisted with the missionary group’s trip, have been ordered to return to Haiti immediately. The group believes that Haitian police knew about the kidnapping, as they arrived at their hotel late in the evening, sparking suspicions about their involvement.
After they had started the rescue mission, the missionaries were forced to hide in a remote valley and were later attacked.
The Chaldean Catholic community in Atlanta is demanding answers as to why three Chaldean priests were abducted, who they are and what was done to them during their visit.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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