Missionaries walked miles to escape kidnappers in Haiti

Officials are releasing more information on the escape of 12 missionaries who had been kidnapped in Haiti.

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Christian Aid Ministries said Monday that more than a dozen people escaped from their captors overnight and walked for miles with an infant and children, using the stars to navigate the terrain, The Associated Press reported.

At daybreak, the group found someone to help them make a call for help.

>>Related: Remaining missionaries kidnapped by gang in Haiti freed, officials say

They had been held for two months.

Five others had been released prior.

The 12 adults and five children — 16 Americans and one Canadian — were abducted on Oct. 16 after they had visited an orphanage in Ganthier.

CAM spokesman Weston Showalter said five to 10 minutes after leaving the orphanage the group had come upon a roadblock. The driver of the group turned around but was followed by a pickup truck, and “gang members surrounded” the van, the AP reported.

The group were held by the 400 Mawozo gang, according to CAM.

>>Related: 2 abductees freed in Haiti, according to US missionaries

They were taken to a small room in a house at first but were later been moved around frequently. They were not physically harmed by the kidnappers but suffered health issues from the heat, mosquitoes and contaminated water they used for bathing during the captivity.

The freed missionaries were flown to Florida by the U.S. Coast Guard.

CAM is based in Berlin, Ohio, and is staffed by Anabaptist members from Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Ontario, the AP reported.

>>Related: U.S. missionaries among 17 kidnapped in Haiti; officials blame 400 Mawozo gang

The ministry had a message for the kidnappers posted on the CAM website:

“We do not know all of the challenges you face. We do believe that violence and oppression of others can never be justified. You caused our hostages and their families a lot of suffering. However, Jesus taught us by word and by His own example that the power of forgiving love is stronger than the hate of violent force. Therefore, we extend forgiveness to you. The hostages told you plainly how you can also be forgiven by God, if you repent. Our desire is that you and all who hear or read this statement may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Son of God, and the Prince of Peace. Jesus died for all so that all can be saved.”

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