PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The chief of the 400 Mawozo gang that police say is holding 17 members of a kidnapped missionary group is seen in a video launched Thursday saying he’ll kill them if he doesn’t get what he’s demanding.

The video posted on social media reveals Wilson Joseph wearing a blue swimsuit, carrying a blue hat and sporting a big cross round his neck.

“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” he mentioned within the video.

He additionally threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Haiti’s nationwide police chief as he spoke in entrance of the open coffins that apparently held a number of members of his gang who had been not too long ago killed.

“You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood,” he mentioned.

On Thursday afternoon, Henry’s workplace introduced that Léon Charles had resigned as head of the National Police and was changed by Frantz Elbé. The newspaper Le Nouvelliste mentioned Elbé was director of the police departments of the South East and Nippes and beforehand served as basic safety coordinator of the National Palace when Jocelerme Privert was provisional president.

People protest for the release of kidnapped missionaries near the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries headquarters in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.  (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

People protest for the discharge of kidnapped missionaries close to the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries headquarters in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.  (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

“We would like for public peace to be restored, that we return to normal life and that we regain our way to democracy,” Henry mentioned.

There was no instant remark from Charles or Elbé.

Earlier this week, authorities mentioned that the gang was demanding $1 million per particular person, though it wasn’t instantly clear that included the 5 kids within the group, amongst them an 8-month-old. Sixteen Americans and one Canadian had been kidnapped, together with their Haitian driver.

The missionaries are with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, which held a information convention earlier than somebody posted the video of the gang chief.

Weston Showalter, spokesman for the spiritual group, mentioned that the households of those that’d been kidnapped are from Amish, Mennonite and different conservative Anabaptist communities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Ontario, Canada. He learn a letter from the households, who weren’t recognized by identify, during which they mentioned, “God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord’s command to love your enemies.”

Security forces patrol the streets of Croix-des-Bouquets, near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Security forces patrol the streets of Croix-des-Bouquets, close to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
(AP)

The group invited folks to hitch them in prayer for the abductors in addition to these kidnapped and expressed gratitude for assist from “people that are knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with” such conditions.

“Pray for these families,” Showalter mentioned. “They are in a difficult spot.”

The group later issued an announcement saying it could not touch upon the video “until those directly involved in obtaining the release of the hostages have determined that comments will not jeopardize the safety and well-being of our staff and family members.”

American and Canadian Christian missionaries held hostage by Haitian gangVideo

The gang chief’s dying risk added to the already intense concern in and round Holmes County, Ohio, the place Christian Aid Ministries is predicated and has one of many nation’s largest concentrations of Amish, conservative Mennonite and associated teams. Many members of these teams have supported the group by donations or by volunteering at its warehouse.

“These kinds of things erase some of the boundaries that exist within our circles,” added Marcus Yoder, government director of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Millersburg.

“Many people in the community feel helpless, but they also realize the power of prayer and the power of our historic theology,” he mentioned, together with the Anabaptist perception in nonresistance to violence.

The identical day that the missionaries had been kidnapped, a gang additionally kidnapped a Haiti college professor, in line with an announcement that Haiti’s ombudsman-like Office of Citizen Protection issued on Tuesday. It additionally famous {that a} Haitian pastor kidnapped earlier this month has not been launched regardless of a ransom being paid.

“The criminals … operate with complete impunity, attacking all members of society,” the group mentioned.

UNICEF mentioned Thursday that the variety of girls and kids kidnapped within the first eight months of this yr has surpassed the whole for all of final yr.

“Nowhere is safe for children in Haiti anymore,” Jean Gough, UNICEF regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, mentioned in an announcement. “Whether on their way to school, at home or even at church, girls and boys are at risk of being kidnapped anywhere, at any time of the day or night.”

UNICEF mentioned 71 girls and 30 kids had been kidnapped this yr, up from 59 girls and 37 kids final yr.

“They represent one third of the 455 kidnappings reported this year,” the company mentioned.

Meanwhile, a whole lot of demonstrators blocked roads and burned tires in Haiti’s capital to decry a extreme gasoline scarcity and a spike in insecurity and to demand that the prime minister step down.

The scattered protest passed off throughout the Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.

In addition to kidnappings, the gangs are also blamed for blocking fuel distribution terminals and hijacking provide vans, which officers say has led to a scarcity of gasoline. Many fuel stations now stay closed for days at a time, and the dearth of gasoline is so dire that the CEO of Digicel Haiti introduced on Tuesday that 150 of its 1,500 branches countrywide are out of diesel.

“Nothing works!” complained Davidson Meiuce, who joined Thursday’s protest. “We are suffering a lot.”

Some protestors held up indicators together with one which learn, “Down with the high cost of living.”

Demonstrators clashed with police in some areas, with officers firing tear fuel that blended with the heavy black smoke rising from burning tires that served as barricades.

Alexandre Simon, a 34-year-old English and French instructor, mentioned he and others are protesting as a result of Haitians are dealing with such dire conditions.

“There are a lot of people who cannot eat,” he mentioned. “There is no work … There are a lot of things we don’t have.”