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Posted Monday, December 24, 2007
As Christmas approaches, Haiti's president marks the annual ritual with plea to end kidnapping 
By The Associate Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - President Rene Preval asked kidnappers to stop targeting youngsters during a somber holiday address Sunday in this impoverished Caribbean nation.

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Courtesey of Haiti National Police to wehaitians.com

Preval made his plea before handing gifts to 500 disabled children at the national palace in Port-au-Prince. Standing beside Haitian music stars and an aide dressed as Santa Claus, he first implored and then threatened criminals to stop abducting children.

"Gangs, for me, please give the kids a chance," he said. "If you don't give the kids a chance, (the police) will make you."

Although the total number of abductions is down from previous years, Haiti has suffered a spate of kidnappings in the run-up to the holiday season. At least 41 people have been kidnapped since Nov. 1 as criminals seek money for Christmas gifts. Many of the victims are children, seized by gangs or abducted by relatives.

The country is still reeling from the case of a 7-year-old boy who was killed and mutilated last month after his parents could not pay a $680 ransom.

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