Two missionaries in Haiti have been released after they were abducted in a group kidnapping in the Caribbean country.
The hostage-takers were armed with guns and bound the other five missionaries, The Associated Press reported, citing family and other members of the group. One of the missionaries was released earlier.
The missionary group from Colorado Springs, Colorado, does not include missionaries from Christ Reception Church, whose leaders are suspected of taking the hostages on an expensive spiritual retreat. Police are now investigating whether any church members or church equipment were taken, The AP reported.
In a statement, the church says the two missionaries they have helped do missionary work in Haiti for the past year are safe. “We are relieved that the present missionaries and the others are safe,” the statement says.
Eight missionaries from Colorado and South Carolina who had been in Haiti were kidnapped Monday, two days after a helicopter came looking for them on a humanitarian mission when they failed to return home.
A family member said the missing missionaries were hiking the Léogâne river in the French-speaking country when they encountered heavy rains, reported The Gazette in Colorado Springs. The storm caused the helicopter to crash.
Police told the newspaper that the victims and several kidnappers were found on the mountain on Tuesday.
Johni-Ann Elrod, CEO of Christ Reception Church, confirmed in a statement that members of the missionary group “were involved in an unfortunate event in Haiti.” The group has been working in Haiti for the past six months to help young women in vulnerable communities run by the diaspora, she said.
According to The Gazette, nine others were safely returned by the helicopter about 4 p.m. Monday, but the church’s two remaining missionaries have been missing since, reported the paper.
Christ Reception Church says it was searching Monday when the abduction was first reported. The church, which was founded more than 40 years ago, “is not handling the situation properly,” Elrod told The Gazette.
Police in Haiti said they were looking for the hostage-takers, whose motive remains unclear.