Kidnappers in Haiti demand $17 million ransom for US missionaries

Kidnappers holding a group of 17 US and Canadian missionaries in Haiti including five children are demanding a ransom of $1 million for each of their hostages, security sources said Tuesday.

The kidnapping by one of Haiti's brazen criminal gangs has underlined the country's deepening woes following the assassination of president Jovenel Moise in July, with lawlessness mounting in the Western hemisphere's poorest nation.

A gang known as 400 Mawozo, which for months has controlled the area where the missionaries and members of their families were abducted, wants a total of $17 million, sources told AFP.

Haitian Justice Minister Liszt Quitel confirmed that the gang was behind the kidnapping of 16 Americans and one Canadian.

He told The Washington Post that kidnappers normally demand huge sums of money which are reduced during negotiations, saying his officials did not take part in the talks.

The missionaries work for US-based Christian Aid Ministries, which said in a statement that the group was abducted east of Port-au-Prince while returning from visiting an orphanage situated between the Haitian capital and the border with the Dominican Republic.

On Sunday the organization said the captive group is made up five men, seven women and five children whose ages it did not disclose.

In April, 10 people including two French clerics were kidnapped and held for 20 days by 400 Mawozo in the same region.

The United States in August issued a red alert on Haiti, urging Americans not to travel to the Caribbean nation because of rampant kidnapping, crime and civil unrest.

On Monday a general strike was called to protest the rapidly disintegrating security situation highlighted by the latest kidnapping.

In Port-au-Prince, shops, schools and government buildings were shuttered but schools were opened in several other towns around the country.

Kenyan running star's husband in court over her killing

The husband of Kenyan distance running star Agnes Tirop appeared in court on Monday as a suspect in her killing, and was remanded in custody for almost three weeks.

Ibrahim, commonly known as Emmanuel, Rotich, was arrested last week in the coastal town of Mombasa after a dramatic late-night chase.

"The suspect will remain in police custody for 20 days to enable police to complete the investigations into the murder," Iten chief magistrate Charles Kutwa said.

"He will also be taken for mental assessment."

Tirop, 25, was found stabbed to death in their home in Iten, western Kenya, last Wednesday, a killing that shocked the nation and the world of athletics.

The double world championships bronze medallist was considered a rising star in Kenyan athletics. She came fourth in the 5,000 metres at the Tokyo Olympics this year and broke the world women-only record in the 10km last month.

Rotich, said by police to be aged about 41, had been expected to appear in court on Friday, but the hearing was postponed as officials decided where the case against him should be held.

© 2021 AFP

Golden Globes to go ahead despite TV blackout over diversity row

The Golden Globes will go ahead despite NBC's decision not to broadcast the Hollywood award ceremony over concerns about its record on diversity and transparency, organizers said Friday.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association -- which votes on the Globes and has been under fire due to allegations of racism, sexism, bullying and corruption -- said winners of the annual film and television awards will be announced on January 9.

No details were given of how the awards will be announced, or if any physical ceremony will take place.

The prestigious Globes ceremony usually kicks off Hollywood's glitzy award season, and draws a who's who of Tinseltown A-listers to a lavish and champagne-soaked ceremony.

But NBC pulled the plug on the party in May, after major Hollywood studios suspended their involvements with the HFPA, and stars such as Tom Cruise and Scarlett Johansson slammed the group.

At the time, Netflix and Amazon Studios said they would not work with the HFPA until more "meaningful" and "significant" reforms were made to its ranks.

The controversy stemmed from a report in February that the HFPA had no Black members in its ranks, although discontent with the group had been simmering in Hollywood for years.

This month, the HFPA admitted 21 new members in what it dubbed "the largest and most diverse" new class in its 78-year history, with a similar expansion planned next year.

The group also announced a five-year partnership with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to "to increase diversity, equity and inclusion across the global entertainment industry."

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