A security source from Haiti told AFP that about 15 American missionaries were kidnapped at noon Saturday by a gang in a semi-urban area east of Port-au-Prince.
Between 15 and 17 US citizens, including children of missionary families, in the hands of the armed gang that has for months multiplied its sinister kidnappings and robberies in the area between the Haitian capital and the border with the Dominican Republic, identified it. The source was unable to determine, on Saturday evening, whether a ransom request had been sent.
“The welfare and safety of US citizens abroad is one of our highest priorities at the State Department. A US government spokesperson told AFP that we are aware of this information and have nothing to add at this time.
Armed gangs, which for years controlled the poorest areas of the Haitian capital, have expanded their power to Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas as they work to increase the number of abhorrent kidnappings.
More than 600 cases were recorded in the first three quarters of 2021 compared to 231 cases in the same period of 2020, according to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, based in the Haitian capital.
For years, a deep political crisis has paralyzed Haiti’s social and economic development. The July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise by an armed commando group at his private residence has heightened uncertainty in the Caribbean nation.