At least 17 U.S. Christian missionaries and their family members including children, have been kidnapped by gang members in Haiti.
Haitian security officials told The New York Times that the missionaries were kidnapped while leaving an orphanage. Local officials said the missionaries were taken from a bus headed to the airport to drop off some members of the group before continuing to another destination in Haiti.
CNN which cited an unnamed source in Haiti’s security forces, reported that the victims include 14 adults and three minors.
Initial reports did not give details on the missionaries or their church. “This is a special prayer alert,” said a voice message sent to other religious missions by an organization with direct knowledge of the incident.
“Pray that the gang members would come to repentance,” the message from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries continued.
The message stated that the mission’s field director is working with the US Embassy, and that the field director’s family and one other unidentified man stayed at the ministry’s base while everyone else visiting the orphanage was abducted.
A US State Department spokesperson who spoke to The Post, said they are aware of the report. The spokesperson said;
“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State.
“We are aware of these reports and have nothing additional to offer at this time.”
While kidnappings are alarmingly common in the politically-torn nation, officials were shocked at the bold abduction of such a large number of people.
The country has been in a state of political turmoil since Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated by gunmen in his home in July, a case that has yet to be solved by local law enforcement.