A group of Christian missionaries and their family members were kidnapped on Saturday by gang members in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince.
The missionaries were abducted from a bus headed to the airport to drop off some members of the group before continuing to another destination in Haiti, a report by the New York Times stated, citing security officials from the crisis-engulfed Caribbean nation.
The missionaries, include 16 Americans, a Canadian citizen and several children, were taken in the area of La Tremblay by what was believed to be members of the 400 Mawozo gang, the Miami Herald reported.
A person familiar with the situation claims one of the abducted Americans posted a cry for help in a WhatsApp group as the kidnapping was occurring.
‘Please pray for us!! We are being held hostage, they kidnapped our driver. Pray pray pray. We don’t know where they are taking us,’ the abductee said.
The US government has been made aware of the kidnapping reports, and officials at the American embassy are reportedly looking into the situation.
Meanwhile, thousands of Haitian migrants have fled the country, which is vastly controlled by gangs, and come to the US in the last month. The mass exodus follows the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse who was fatally shot at his private residence on July 7.
Moïse was succeeded by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who claims he has no desire to remain in power but has also delayed the nation’s presidential and legislative elections. Henry has also vowed to find the masterminds behind the president’s killing.
The missionaries were on their way home from building an orphanage in the Croix des Bouquets area when they were abducted on the road to Ganthier, according to Le Nouvelliste.
Heavily armed men had placed roadblocks near Carrefour Boen and La Tremblay 17 between 8 and 10am Saturday. They later kidnapped a bus transporting the missionaries as it passed through the area.