Daily US Times: A notorious Haitian gang is behind the kidnap of a group of North American missionaries near the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, officials say.
The seven women, five men and five children were returning from a visit to an orphanage when they were abducted on Saturday.
Officials say the missionaries are being held by the 400 Mawozo gang – a kidnap gang also blamed for the kidnap of Catholic clergy in April.
Haiti has one of the highest rates of kidnapping in the world.
With more than 600 kidnappings recorded in the first three quarters of 2021, this year has been particularly bad in the country. There were 231 over the same period last year, according to a local civil society group.
The rise in kidnapping has come in the wake of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination in July, as rival gangs fight to gain control of the country in the face of a struggling police force.
The Catholic Church has previously described the situation after kidnapping as “a descent into hell”, with gangs taking people from all walks of life, both foreign and local.
Frantz Champagne, Haitian police inspector, told The Associated Press (AP) that it was thought the gang was also behind Saturday’s kidnap of the missionary group – one Canadian and 16 US citizens. AFP news agency said an unknown number of locals had also been taken.
The missionaries – who had travelled to Haiti with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries – were seized shortly after leaving the town of Croix-des-Bouquets, an area controlled by the gang.