Around 17 American Christian missionaries and their families, along with children, were kidnapped on Saturday, October 16 by a gang in Port-au-Prince, the capital of violence-ridden Haiti, according to a voice message sent to several religious missions by an organization that was aware of the incident.
The New York Times reported citing security officials that the incident occurred as the missionaries and their families were leaving an orphanage in the city. The report did not disclose the identity of the missionaries and their family members involved in the occurrence.
The details of the case have yet to be made clear but according to local security officials, the missionaries were abducted from a bus that was headed to an airport to drop off some of the family members before continuing onwards to another location in Haiti.
Following the incident, a US government spokesperson said they were made aware of the alleged 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 stated but made no further comments.
Meanwhile, US Spokeswoman from the State Department in Washington, Jennifer Viau, informed through an email that they were looking into the matter.
The US embassy in Haiti, however, did not respond to queries regarding the incident outside business hours. A spokeswoman from the local police department in Haiti assured that she was seeking information about the kidnappings.
Violence and crime have been rampant in the country since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise earlier this year in July which was followed by an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 in August, killing 2,000 people.
Gang activity has only grown stronger in the country during this time. According to a report issued in September by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, BINUH, at least 328 kidnapping victims were reported to Haiti’s National Police in the first eight months of 2021, as compared to a total of 234 for all of 2020.