PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A Canadian missionary kidnapped in a surge of politically motivated gang violence has been released after a week in captivity.
Ed Hughes, 72, was abducted from his home north of Port-au-Prince on June 18. His captors threatened to kill him unless they received $45,000.
Nelson Ryman, who runs an orphanage in Haiti with Hughes, said the missionary was released Saturday night on a rural road after the kidnappers received a ransom raised by his friends and colleagues.
Ryman said the ransom was less than $10,000 but would not give the exact amount. Police and U.N. officials worked through a Haitian mediator to secure Hughes' release.
Hughes was put on a "tap-tap," a pickup truck used as a collective taxi, but for some reason tried to jump out and hurt his head, Ryman said.
He made it back to the capital early Sunday and was resting at a safe location in Port-au-Prince.
"He called me in the morning and was extremely disoriented," Ryman said from his home in Tampa, Fla. "A bit later I talked to him again and he said he plans to return to his children in the orphanage."
Hughes was shot and badly wounded in the arm in December 2005 trying to stop the abduction of Haitian-American missionary Daniel Phelusmar, who was held for four days.
A surge in gang violence has led U.N. troops to increase patrols and checkpoints in the volatile Haitian capital, a commander with the Brazilian-led peacekeeping mission said Sunday.
Brazilian Commander Alberto Barbosa Nascimento blamed gangs loyal to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide for the increase in crime.
At least 29 people were kidnapped in Haiti's capital last month, up from 15 in April, the mission says.
The well-armed gangs also have killed 10 Haitian police officers since May in an effort to intimidate the nation's ill-equipped security forces, police say.
The violence has raised fears of a repeat of the mayhem that followed a 2004 revolt that toppled Aristide, now in exile in South Africa. Haiti had been relatively calm since the Feb. 7 election of President Rene Preval.
"Attacks by gang members had decreased in recent months because they expected President Preval's government to bring back Aristide. This has not been the case, so the recent attacks serve as a strategy to pressure the current government," Barbosa said.
Barbosa said violence also has escalated because gangs in the sprawling slums of Port-au-Prince need money after several months of relative quiet.