The 38 people who were kidnapped by gunmen as they were riding in minibuses in Haiti on Friday, have been freed.
The announcement was made late Saturday by one of the unions representing bus drivers in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state.
“The passengers who had been kidnapped were released… on 11 June,” the Haitian Owners and Drivers Association said in a message posted to social media, adding that the two minibuses they had been traveling in were also recovered.
The association did not say if a ransom was demanded and paid to the kidnappers.
According to the president of the association of owners and drivers of Haiti, Mehu Changeux, two buses had just been filled with passengers heading for Miragoane, a town 62 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince, when the members of a powerful gang from a slum called Village de Dieu seized them.
“Each bus had 18 people, in addition to the drivers,” Changeux said.
The mass kidnapping came as Haiti finds itself in the grip of armed gangs, whom police have failed to confront.
Since June 1, 2021, Haitian authorities have lost control of the only road connecting Port-au-Prince to the southern half of the country, with a section of some 1.5 miles under the sway of armed gangs.
According to Changeux his organization has warned drivers not to take this road until the state has restored security.
Last weekend, three young Turkish women were released after a month in captivity.
They had been kidnapped by the criminal gang that controls the entire region east of Port-au-Prince, close to the border with the Dominican Republic that shares the island of Hispaniola.
In May, at least 200 kidnappings were recorded by the United Nations, most of them occurring in Port-au-Prince.