Up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their family members have reportedly been kidnapped on Saturday by a gang in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, Fox News reports quoting a voice message an organization with direct knowledge of the incident has sent to various religious missions.
According to the message from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, the missionaries were on a bus on their way home from building an orphanage in Haiti which infamous for kidnappings, but where the abduction of such a large group of foreigners is unusual.
The message also adds that the mission’s field director is working with the US Embassy there to try to resolve the crisis but there’s no official statement yet issued by the embassy and the US State Department also did not provide any further details saying only that it its aware of the reports.
Local security sources confirmed on Sunday that at least 15 American missionaries with at least three children among them had been kidnapped and held hostage by an armed gang. One of the missionaries managed to post an SOS message in a WhatsApp group informing on the kidnapping.
The news on the abduction was disseminated among other religious aid groups via a special prayer alert by Ohio’s Christian Aid Ministries but no further details about the missionaries or their church is currently available.
Engulfed in turmoil for years, Haiti is once again struggling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings enticed by the worsened security and economic situation over the past several months following the President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination in July and the earthquake in August that killed more than 2,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless.
The Center for Analysis and Research in Human Right’ data shows that at least 628 kidnappings, including 29 of foreigners, have taken place in Haiti since January with kidnapping gangs demanding ransoms ranging from a couple hundred dollars to more than $1 million.