The Associated Press
April 6, 2001

American Kidnapped in Haiti Escapes


              PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- An American businessman abducted outside his
              mansion managed to escape a few hours later, a source close to the family said

              Marc Ashton, a longtime Haiti resident who is a main stockholder of a Toyota
              dealer in Port-au-Prince, was taken hostage Thursday afternoon by at least five
              abductors lying in wait, witnesses said.

              He returned home late that evening, and he and his family left Haiti on a flight to
              Miami on Friday, the source said on condition of anonymity. No details of his
              escape were available, and radio reports that the captors had sought a $1 million
              ransom could not be confirmed.

              Attacks on foreigners in Haiti had been rare until this year. However, a recent surge
              of crime has taken the lives of two U.S. citizens in the past two weeks.

              Unidentified gunmen fatally shot Alejandro Morales, 31, of Miami, on a highway
              near the capital. Maureen Nielson, 33, of Rochester, N.Y., was killed by a gunman
              after leaving a Port-au-Prince bank March 23. Both had been working in Haiti,
              Morales as a mechanic and Nielson as a volunteer missionary at an orphanage.

              The U.S. Embassy has declined to comment on both cases. The State Department
              has warned Americans against traveling to Haiti ``due to the unstable security