by Daily Sabah with AFP
PORT-AU-PRINCE- Sources say five Turks kidnapped in Haiti last month have been freed.
Details on the circumstances of their release the day before were not available, but the men, aged between 20 and 26, are in apparent good physical health, a source close to the case said.
Michaelle Durandis, the representative of the bus company that operated the vehicle in which they were traveling, had previously announced that three Turkish women seized at the same time were freed earlier this month “because they were sick.” On May 8, the group was traveling by bus from the Dominican capital Santo Domingo, bound for Port-au-Prince, when it was hijacked by one of the most powerful armed gangs in Haiti shortly after crossing the border. Twelve people were on board the bus at the time: eight Turkish nationals, three Haitians and a Dominican.
The Turks were members of an educational and religious association, according to Hugues Josue, Turkey’s honorary consul in Haiti. The two employees of the transport company, a Haitian hostess and Dominican driver, were released less than a week after the hijacking. The two Haitian passengers were later released by the gang after the payment of a ransom, Durandis said.
Haitian police are struggling to tackle gangs in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding countryside: In the month of May alone, at least 200 kidnappings were recorded by the United Nations, crimes overwhelmingly committed in the capital.
For several years, one of the most powerful gangs in Haiti, called “400 Mawozo,” has controlled the area between the Dominican Republic and the Haitian capital, where the Turkish nationals were kidnapped.