Haiti Gunmen Release Kids, Keep Missionary Captive

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Gunmen released 14 children whom they kidnapped aboard their school bus in the capital, but a missionary from Michigan who was abducted in a separate incident remained in captivity, Haitian police said Friday.

The gunmen released the children and the driver unharmed Thursday night, said police Commissioner Francois Henry Doussous, chief of the country's anti-kidnapping unit.

Haitian radio reported that an unspecified ransom was paid, but Doussous said the gunmen received no money. He said they released the children and driver because of intense public attention on the case and because police checkpoints prevented the kidnappers from returning with their hostages to their base in the Cite Soleil slum.

There were no arrests.

"Mercifully, the gangs didn't manage to bring them to Cite Soleil," police spokesman Frantz Lerebours told The Associated Press.

Gunmen kidnapped the children, aged 5-17, earlier Thursday — the same day missionary Phillip Snyder was abducted as he was driving on a road north of the capital.

Snyder is the president of Glow Ministries International, based in Zeeland, Mich.

The kidnappings came five weeks before national elections to restore democracy to the troubled nation, which has seen a sharp increase in kidnappings amid the chaos following the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.

Doussous said police were working to secure Snyder's release.

"We have strong hopes that we will get him released today, that's our goal," Doussous said.