Port-au-Prince — Members of a gang on the outskirts of the Haitian capital stopped a bus coming from the Dominican Republic and kidnapped more than two dozen passengers, Dominican news outlets reported Thursday. Haitian police said they could not confirm how many of the 37 passengers were taken hostage, Roosevelt bus owner Jean-Francois told Haitian media, but Dominican newspapers quoted the neighboring country’s defense ministry as saying the driver made it. back across the border with a horrifying tale of how he and a handful of others escaped the gang.
Gunmen hijacked a bus from the Capital Coach Line on Wednesday around 2:30 p.m. local time, a Haitian National Police spokesman told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Law enforcement officials said they found at least seven people on the bus, as well as a car. But the driver was taken away by thugs.
Jean-Francois said that a bus employee was injured as a result of the attack. This information largely confirmed the version of events This is reported by the Dominican newspaper Listin Diariowhich, citing the country’s Ministry of Defense, said on Thursday that the driver had been received at the border crossing earlier in the day.
The driver, identified as 32-year-old Johan Antonio de la Rosa, told authorities that he, the conductor and passengers were forced into another vehicle by the gang. According to an account attributed to the Department of Defense, that vehicle ran out of gas, and de la Rosa, the conductor, and several Haitian passengers took the opportunity to escape.
Two employees made it to the bus company’s office in Haiti, Listin Diario said, before the driver was taken to a border crossing to return home.
A female conductor was shot during the escape, according to reports that have not been confirmed by Haitian officials. She was treated by emergency responders before being transferred to a hospital in chaos-ridden Haiti for treatment. Her condition was not clear Friday.
Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported that a total of nine people escaped from the hijackers, but it was unclear if any of the escaped passengers were still at large on Friday. There was also no further information on the fate of the more than two dozen passengers apparently taken by the gang.
Powerful criminal gangs have robbed cargo convoys and taken hostages on the route between Port-au-Prince and the Dominican border in recent years.
In May 2022, another company’s bus traveling between Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince was hijacked by gang members. The gunmen held the passengers captive, including eight young Turkish citizens, who were released after more than a month of imprisonment.
The assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021 left the country reelingwith gangs controlling vast swaths of territory, including the capital Port-au-Prince, and the government seemingly powerless to respond.
De facto President Ariel Henry is working without an official mandate as the security situation has made it impossible to hold long-overdue elections, leaving the country’s Congress with virtually no lawmakers left.
“It’s a collapse,” said Patrice Dumont, one of 10 senators who left their posts this month after their terms in Congress ended. told NPR this week.
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