PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- The number of kidnappings in Haiti has dropped sharply in recent years but U.N. police report an increase since the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.
So far this year, 68 abductions have been reported, The Miami Herald said Wednesday. That's up from 51 in the first eight months of 2009.
Gunmen invaded a home in Pelerin, a middle-class neighborhood in the hills over Port-au-Prince Friday, killing a 56-year-old Florida man who was visiting his family. Gregoire-Ronald Chery's cousin, Nadege Charlot, 16, was abducted, and her kidnappers have demanded a $100,000 ransom.
At least three employees of international aid groups have been kidnapped, two from Doctors Without Borders and one from the Pan-American Development Foundation. All three were released, but a Haitian driver for the foundation was killed.
"After Jan. 12, it looks like the good targets would be the NGOs, and I'm pretty sure they don't have ransoms planned into their budgets,'' Ronald Delva, head of a security consulting company, told the Herald.
Security has improved since 2005, when more than 800 kidnappings were reported. U.N. officials said they do not expect a return to that level of violence but fear kidnappings may continue to rise as the election approaches, with politicians arranging abductions as a way to raise money.