- A group of missionaries kidnapped by a gang in Haiti managed to sneak past guards during an escape.
- On December 15, the 12 hostages used light from the moon to walk across rugged terrain.
- They were part of a group of 17 hostages who were kidnapped on October 16.
A group of missionaries kidnapped by a gang in Haiti managed to sneak past guards and use the light of the stars and moon to escape over rugged terrain last week, Christian Aid Ministries said on Monday.
Seventeen individuals from the Ohio-based missionary group had been kidnapped on October 16 by members of the 400 Mawoza gang in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.
Two of the hostages were released in late November, with another three getting released in early December, the Christian Aid Ministries previously said, leaving 12 still in captivity until last week.
Weston Showalter, a spokesman for the agency, said during a press conference on Monday that the remaining group of 12 people — including a 10-month-old baby and 3-year-old child — made their escape during the night of December 15.
Showalter said that on the night of the escape, the group of hostages put on their shoes, packed water in their clothes, and stacked their mattresses in a corner of the room where they were being held.
"When they sensed the timing was right, they found a way to open the door that was closed and blocked, filed silently to the path that they had chosen to follow, and quickly left the place that they were held — despite the fact that numerous guards were nearby," he said.
He said the group had recognized a mountain in the distance that they identified in previous days, and understood that to be the right direction to walk.
"They also followed the sure guidance of the stars as they journeyed through the night," he said, and that the group relied on the moonlight while walking "as much as 10 miles" through rugged terrain.
After walking for hours through the night, the missionaries eventually found someone who was able to help them make a phone call, Showalter said. They were then flown out of Haiti to Florida.
"They were finally free," he said during what was an emotional speech.