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|Posted Monday, August 15, 2005|
|Canadian Missionary Kidnapped in Haiti|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - Criminals have kidnapped a Canadian missionary who operates an orphanage in Haiti and are demanding a ransom of around $35,000 US, officials and missionaries have confirmed.
Ed Hughes, 62, was kidnapped late Monday in the rural town of Cabaret - north of the capital of Port au Prince -- where he runs the Tytoo Gardens orphanage, Haitian Judiciary Police Chief Michael Lucius told The Associated Press.
Nelson Ryman, who co-founded the orphanage with Hughes, told CTV Newsnet he learned of the kidnapping on Monday, implying that the incident occurred earlier than Monday evening.
"I got a call about 10 a.m. yesterday morning (Monday) from a Haitian who works for us at the orphanage saying that Mr. Hughes had come up missing and that he'd had a call from people who said that they had him in a section of Haiti and that they were looking for some money," Ryman said.
Ryman, who returned from Haiti on Friday, also confirmed the ongoing ransom negotiations.
"I think what they're asking for is Haitian dollars and the last figure that I had was $260,000 or $280,000 Haitian dollars," Ryman said. "So essentially they started asking for about $45,000 US and they're now someplace in the vicinity of $30,000 to $35,000 (US)."
But Ryman was doubtful if they could come up with the funds necessary for Hughes' release.
"I don't know if that money can be raised or not or if that money can be raised in time," Ryman said. "We've been advised by governmental authorities that we shouldn't pay the ransom."
A raid by Haitian police in Cabaret on Tuesday freed a kidnapped Haitian while four people were arrested, Lucius said. However, he would not confirm any connection between the raid and the search for Hughes.
"We still have not located the Canadian missionary and do not have additional information concerning a ransom but we are currently working on this case," Lucius said.
Witnesses said thugs attacked the facility, stealing electronic equipment and kidnapping Hughes, local station Radio Metropole reported.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Amber Dickie confirmed that their department was dealing with "the kidnapping of a Canadian citizen in Haiti."
"Foreign Affairs officials are in touch with his emergency contacts," Dickie said without confirming any further details.
UN spokeswoman Marie-Evelyn Petrus-Barry said UN authorities were working to "liberate him (Hughes) as soon as possible."
In December 2005, Hughes' arm was amputated from his elbow down after kidnappers shot him during an attempt to abduct another man working at the orphanage. The abducted man, American Daniel Thelusmar, 26, was eventually released.
"He was released after a ransom of $10,000 was paid and is now back in the states," Ryman confirmed.
Hughes' capture continues a spike in abductions throughout Haiti since President Rene Preval gained power in May.
Since May, armed gangs have killed 10 Haitian police officers in an attempt to intimidate the country's weak security forces. There are only 6,000 poorly-equipped police for Haiti's eight million people while the UN recommends they should have at least 20,000.
"My impression is that gangs are starting a campaign to intimidate both Haitians and the police force," Haiti police spokesperson Frantz Lerebours said. "This is a new phenomenon in Haiti and we are currently discussing strategies to combat the bandits." With files from The Associated Press
© 2006 CTV Inc.
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