Screenshot of Lanmò San Jou, leader of the 400 Mawozo gang, and other members of the gang behind him.

For the second time in as many weeks, suspected gang members have kidnapped worshippers near or inside a church, drawing more outcry to stop the ongoing violence in Haiti. 

In their latest brazen act, alleged gang members nabbed five priests, two nuns and three members of a priest’s family around the Saint Jacques Catholic church in Croix-des-Bouquets, a commune near Port-au-Prince, on Sunday. The group of worshippers was on its way to witness the installation ceremony of Father Jean Anel Joseph when the crime occurred. 

Members of the 400 Mawozo gang are suspected of carrying out the act, according to police in media reports.

“We can’t anymore,” said members of the Haitian Conference of Worshippers in a statement released to the public Sunday. “Not a day goes without weeping and gnashing of teeth and yet the so-called leaders of this country, while clinging to power, are increasingly helpless.”

The kidnappers have asked for a USD $1 million ransom to release the group of 10. The Haitian Conference of Worshippers identified the captive priests as Father Michel Brilant, a French citizen, Joël Thomas, Evens Joseph, Jean Nicaisse and Hugues Baptiste. The nuns kidnapped were identified as Anne Marie Dorcélus, Agnès Bordeau, another French citizen.

Father Joseph’s mother Oxane Dorcélus, sister Lovely Joseph and godfather Welder Joly were also kidnapped. 

One week prior on Good Thursday, a pastor and three members of the Gospel Kreyol Ministry were kidnapped during a livestream worship service by armed men. The pastor and worshippers were set free four days later after a ransom was paid.

Pastor Greger Figaro, who was among the kidnapped, led a worship service of thanksgiving on Facebook and YouTube Saturday.

Welmyr Jean-Pierre, a renowned pianist, was also among the kidnappees. He was at the service last Saturday. 

Nevertheless, residents have said that they don’t feel safe when they leave home or even at home.

“Your mind is always on self-defense mode, you always feel alarmed,” said Chantal Elie, a political analyst based in Port-au-Prince.

Information from Juno7, Rezo Nodwes and Le Nouvelliste was used in this report.

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Onz Chery is a Haiti correspondent for The Haitian Times. Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and Elite Sports New York before joining The Haitian Times in 2019.

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