Up to 17 American U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti after leaving orphanage

Up to 17 American U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti after leaving orphanage

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to “drop off some members” when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

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  • They’d planned to continue to another destination afterward, according to the outlet.

  • A voice recording from the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, described as a “prayer alert,” said that the “mission field director and the American embassy are working to see what can be done,” the Washington Post reports.

  • A security official told AFP news agency that the “armed gang” that kidnapped the group of “between 15 and 17” Americans had for months “been engaged in theft and kidnappings.”

What they’re saying: A State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement that it was aware of the reports.

The big picture: Haiti has been gripped by violence since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last July.

  • The Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince reported a surge in abductions in Haiti from 73 in August to 117 in September, per WashPost, which notes the country has the “highest per capita kidnapping rate on Earth.”

  • While it was not immediately clear why the Americans were taken, abductions have affected all social classes in the country in recent weeks — with kidnappers demanding anything from $100 to six figures in ransom, WashPost reports.

Editor’s note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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