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North America - Caribbean - Christianity - General

Canadian missionary kidnapped in Haiti
(CP, June 20, 2006)

Port-au-Prince, Haiti - A Canadian missionary who runs an orphanage in Haiti was kidnapped outside the Caribbean country's capital, officials and other missionaries said Tuesday.

Ed Hughes, 62, was kidnapped from his home late Monday in Cabaret, a rural town just north of the capital Port-au-Prince, where he runs the Tytoo Gardens orphanage, said Michael Lucius, chief of the Haitian Judiciary Police.

But the wife of a Florida missionary who co-founded the orphanage with Hughes said he had been kidnapped on Sunday.

"We got a phone call from a worker at the orphanage on Sunday, saying Ed had been kidnapped,'' said Dottie Ryman of Zephyrhills, Fla.., whose husband Nelson had just returned from Haiti on Friday.

A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said the department was aware of "the kidnapping of a Canadian citizen in Haiti''.

"Foreign Affairs officials are in touch with his emergency contacts,'' said Amber Dickie, without providing further details.

Haitian police conducted a raid in the town Tuesday and freed a kidnapped Haitian and arrested four people, but Lucius said it was unknown they had any connection to the abduction of Hughes.

"We still have not located the Canadian missionary and do not have additional information concerning a ransom. But we are currently working on this case,'' he said.

The kidnapping was the latest in a string of abductions that have plagued the country since President Rene Preval took power last month.

UN spokeswoman Marie-Evelyn Petrus-Barry said UN authorities were working with Haitian police to find Hughes and "liberate him as soon as possible.''

Hughes was wounded in December 2005 during the kidnapping of a man who was working for the orphanage, Dottie Ryman told the Canadian Press. His arm had to be amputated after being shot by the kidnappers, she said.

A rise in kidnappings and killings in recent weeks has raised fears of a flare up of violence seen in the aftermath of a February 2004 revolt that toppled Preval's predecessor, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Police said Tuesday that well-armed gangs have killed 10 Haitian police officers since May in a surge of violence aimed at intimidating the impoverished country's ill-equipped security forces.

The victims include two policemen whose bullet-riddled bodies were decapitated and burned last month in the Port-au-Prince slum of Cite Soleil, police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said.

"My impression is that gangs are starting a campaign to intimidate both Haitians and the police force,'' Lerebours said.

"This is a new phenomenon in Haiti and we are currently discussing strategies to combat the bandits.''

Haiti has only 6,000 poorly equipped police to patrol the country of eight million people. UN officials say a country of that size needs at least 20,000 police.