Four people are now believed to have been held in captivity, but no ransom has been paid
Two Canadian and one American missionary are being held by a local gang in a Haitian compound after they tried to deliver aid to hurricane victims.
Matthew Lane Carney and Randy Ray Smith had gone to Port-au-Prince in the wake of hurricane Matthew in October with four others – Carol Robles, Melanie Robles and Shannon Martin – who were held captive over a period of days at a house in a working-class neighbourhood.
They were released late last week, but after four days failed to return, fearing they had been captured by kidnappers and their families were refusing to pay a ransom.
“It appears that a gang is holding the hostages for ransom,” said a Canadian official.
A Haitian official said: “They are in a building that has no electricity and has been used as a holding place for those who have been kidnapped.”
Martin told a local radio station that the kidnappers had told them the value of the ransom was $17m (£14m).
There is no suggestion the abductors are connected to the hurricane.
Smith and Russell Robles, the parents of two of the hostages, said that they believed their children might have been held because the missionaries had tried to take drinking water to needy areas.
“People have died of thirst because of the devastation and, quite frankly, if they have any sort of guns or if their life is in danger, we believe that they wouldn’t come out for any amount of money,” they said.
The other Canadian who went to Haiti with the others, Karen Friesen, was rescued in November in neighbouring Dominican Republic.
Carney and Smith’s families live in Atlanta, Georgia, but were visiting their Canadian friends during the November visit, their parents said.