BREAKING NEWS: Up to 17 American missionaries and their families are kidnapped from bus by gang members as they leave an orphanage in Haiti
- As many as 17 Christian Missionaries from the United States have been kidnapped by a gang on Saturday in Port-au-Prince
- Haitian security officials say the group, including children, were kidnapped as they were leaving an orphanage
- Officials say the missionaries were abducted from a bus headed to the airport
- A surge in gang violence has displaced thousands and hampered economic activity in the poorest country in the Americas
- Violence spiraled after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July and an earthquake in August which killed over 2,000 people
As many as 17 American Christian missionaries and their family members were kidnapped on Saturday by gang members in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince
The missionaries were abducted from a bus headed to the airport to drop off some members of the group before continuing to another destination in Haiti, a report by the New York Times stated, citing security officials from the crisis-engulfed Caribbean nation.
The missionaries were on their way home from building an orphanage, according to a message from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries.
As many as 17 Christian Missionaries from the United States have been kidnapped by a gang on Saturday in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Pictured, soldiers guard the Public Prosecutor’s office in Port-au-Prince (file photo)
‘This is a special prayer alert,’ the one-minute message said. ‘Pray that the gang members would come to repentance.’
The message states that the mission’s field director is working with the U.S. Embassy, and that the field director’s family and one other unidentified man stayed at the ministry’s base while everyone else visiting the orphanage was abducted.
A U.S. government spokesperson said they were aware of the reports on the kidnapping.
“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the spokesperson said, declining further comment.
Haiti is once again struggling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings that had diminished after President Jovenel Moïse was fatally shot at his private residence on July 7, and following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck southwest Haiti in August and killed more than 2,200 people.
Last month, a deacon was killed in front of a church in the capital of Port-au-Prince and his wife kidnapped, one of dozens of people who have been abducted in recent months.
At least 328 kidnapping victims were reported to Haiti´s National Police in the first eight months of 2021, compared with a total of 234 for all of 2020, according to a report issued last month the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti known as BINUH.
Gangs have demanded ransoms ranging from thousands of dollars to more than $1 million, according to authorities.
The State Department would not immediately comment on the reports of a kidnapping and the U.S. Embassy in Haiti did not respond either.