SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The Rev. Jean-Nicaisse Milien felt the cool barrel of a gun in opposition to his proper ear.
The Haitian priest and 9 different folks had simply been kidnapped whereas driving via the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, in early April. It was round 7 a.m. they usually had been en path to have a good time the set up of a fellow pastor at a close-by parish when 15 to twenty gang members brandishing heavy weapons surrounded their automotive.
“Go right here! Go right here!” the gunmen commanded as they pulled over the automotive.
It was the 400 Mawozo gang, the identical group that kidnapped 17 missionaries from a U.S. spiritual group on Oct. 16 as they drove to an orphanage. That group, which incorporates 5 youngsters, the youngest 8-months-old, continues to be being held for ransom amid demise threats.
Milien spoke to The Related Press Tuesday, describing the ordeal he and his 9 companions — two nuns, 4 fellow clergymen and three relations — endured by the hands of their captors.
After seizing them on April 11, the gunmen blindfolded him and the others, Milien stated, and drove till they reached a dilapidated home the place they slept on a dust flooring for days.
“We did our requirements on the bottom,” he recalled. “It was actually tough.”
Milien and the others had been saved blindfolded for 2 days and fed solely rice and bread, washed down with Coca-Cola.
On the primary day, gang members demanded the group hand over telephone numbers of their relations. The gunmen made calls demanding $1 million per head — the identical ransom they made for the missionaries kidnapped final month.
On the fourth day, the gang launched one particular person and moved Milien and the others to a smaller home. After two weeks, they launched three extra, however not Milien. He and the remaining 5 captives had been moved to one more deserted home.
“That final week, it was very tough,” he recalled, saying they obtained no meals and barely any water.
On their method to the third location, the gang chief advised them: “Right here, we don’t have any meals, any hospital, any home. We don’t have something, however we’ve got a cemetery.”
Milien took that as a demise risk and doubled down. “I advised them, ‘Proceed to hope,’” he stated he advised his fellow captives. “Someday, we will likely be free.”
Ultimately Milien and the 5 others had been launched after an undisclosed ransom quantity was paid.
Their freedom got here by way of a knock on the door on the twentieth day of their captivity. It was 11 p.m.
“Get up! Get up! Get up! Let’s go!” Milien recalled a gang member yelling.
The group, in its weakened state, walked a number of yards (meters) to a automotive that took them to their neighborhood. Milien spent nearly per week within the hospital, receiving treatment and nutritional vitamins as he tried to regain his energy.
Months later, Milien nonetheless receives psychological assist.
“It isn’t straightforward. Each time we bear in mind one thing. Each time we take into consideration one thing. … It is part of my life,” he stated.
His recommendation to the households of the 16 Individuals, one Canadian and their Haitian driver, who stay captive, is to by no means lose hope as he prays for his or her launch.
“I do know the expertise isn’t straightforward,” he stated.
As he spoke, the rat-tat-tat of gunfire from a close-by neighborhood managed by one other gang rang out.
“We now have to do one thing. The federal government has to do one thing as a result of we can not stay on this scenario,” Milien stated.
AP photographer Matias Delacroix in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, contributed to this story.