Haiti kidnapping: Diplomat Carlos Guillén 'safe and sound'

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Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Gang violence and kidnappings have been rampant in Port-au-Prince, forcing hundreds of families to flee

Dominican diplomat Carlos Guillén has been freed four days after he was abducted by a gang in Haiti, an official says.

The Dominican Republic's foreign minister, Roberto Álvarez, wrote on Twitter that Mr Guillén was "safe and sound".

Mr Álvarez did not say how Mr Guillén had been freed but thanked "all those who actively took part in his release".

Kidnappings for ransom have surged in Haiti in the past two years.

More than 1,200 people, 81 of them foreign nationals, were abducted last year, according to Haiti's Center for Analysis and Research on Human Rights.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Earlier this week, hundreds of residents fled the Cité de Soleil neighbourhood as gun battles raged

One of Haiti's most powerful gangs, 400 Mawozo, is thought to be behind many of the kidnappings, including that of Mr Guillén.

The Dominican ambassador said members of 400 Mawozo seized Mr Guillén while he was travelling from Haiti's capital, where he served as agricultural attaché, to neighbouring Dominican Republic by road.

The gang has its stronghold in the Croix-des-Bouquets area, east of the capital, and it is there that Mr Guillén was reportedly taken.

On Tuesday, the Dominican military said it would deploy intelligence personnel and drones to search for the diplomat but it is not clear from the foreign minister's statement if the army was involved in his release.

Image source, Haitian Police
Image caption,
Germine Joly is accused of smuggling weapons and kidnapping people for ransom

Germine Joly, who is also known as "Yonyon", had been held in a prison in Port-au-Prince, from where he negotiated ransom payments for people his gang kidnapped.

A Haitian police statement said he would face charges of weapons smuggling and holding US citizens for ransom.

The gang had demanded $1m (£800,000) for the release of each of the missionaries and half that sum for the Dominican diplomat. It is not clear if any ransom was paid in either of the cases.

Haiti's gangs have grown in strength since last July, when Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated by mercenaries.

Earlier this week, at least 20 people were killed and hundreds of families were forced to flee the impoverished area of Cité Soleil after clashes broke out between 400 Mawozo and a rival gang, Chen Mechan.

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