Seventeen members of the group, Christian Aid Ministries, had been kidnapped by a gang in October. Five had been released earlier.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The 12 remaining members of a group of 17 North American missionaries who had been kidnapped in Haiti two months ago have been released, their U.S.-based charity and the Haitian national police said Thursday.
“All seventeen of our loved ones are now safe,” the Christian Aid Ministries, an organization based in Ohio, said in a statement, without providing further details. It was not immediately clear whether a ransom had been paid, or the physical conditions of the hostages.
The abduction underscores the power of criminal gangs in Haiti, a Caribbean nation of 11 million grappling with a deepening political and economic crisis and the aftermath of a powerful earthquake.
Five of the hostages had been let go already, although little was known about the terms of their release. The others were found by local residents in an outlying area of Port-au-Prince, the capital, on Thursday, local media reports said. A Haitian police spokesman also confirmed the release without providing details.
The U.S. Embassy in Haiti declined to comment on the news of their release.
The group had included 16 Americans and one Canadian. They were taken in October by a gang called 400 Mawozo in a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
Gangs have steadily taken over new sections of the capital following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, in July, effectively seizing control of all overland supply routes to and from the city. Gang violence has greatly aggravated Haiti’s already acute economic crisis, leaving supplies of fuel, medical equipment and other essential goods in the capital at the mercy of gang leaders.
Haitian politicians have for years financed gangs to use as their paramilitary units in order to terrorize opponents and stoke political unrest, according to the U.S. Treasury Department and diplomats in the country. When the remnants of central authority broke down following Mr. Moïse’s assassination, gangs filled the void, assuming ever greater political prominence.
One gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, known as Barbeque, marched with his retinue to the downtown of Port-au-Prince to hold a memorial service for Mr. Moïse, without meeting any resistance from the police.
To finance themselves, gangs have increasingly resorted to kidnapping, targeting even students going to school and pastors delivering sermons.