A group of primarily American missionaries has been abducted in Haiti, and police are blaming a street gang amid increasing violence.
Seventeen people, including five children in Haiti as a part of an Ohio-based Christian organization, were kidnapped on Saturday by a gang in Port-Au-Prince, the island’s capital, reported The New York Times. The missionaries were visiting an orphanage at the time.
Haitian police have blamed 400 Mawozo, one of the country’s most prominent and dangerous gangs, for the abduction. The authorities also accused the group earlier this year when seven priests and nuns were abducted.
Gang violence on the island has surged in recent years and has been attributed to government instability. Suspected misappropriation of funds by government leaders, including President Jovenel Moïse, is believed to have caused both police and gang violence to be swept under the rug.
Jovenel Moïse was assassinated this past summer.
Several Haitians have been asking the Biden administration to send United States troops into the area. However, the administration has not committed to the proposition.
The kidnapping of the missionaries came a day after the United Nations Security Council extended its mission in Haiti by nine months in a unanimous vote on Friday. The resolution was presented by Mexico and the United States, which are two countries currently dealing with the Haitian migrant crises.
Christian Aid Ministries, the organization that sent the missionaries to Haiti, released their next steps.
“As an organization, we commit this situation to God and trust Him to see us through. May the Lord Jesus be magnified, and many more people come to know His love and salvation,” the statement read.
A State Department official has said that the Biden administration was in touch with high-level Haitian authorities about the kidnappings but would not say if negotiations for release had begun.
According to CNN, the kidnappers are demanding $17 million– one million dollars per person.
We pray for their safe return.