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Home / World / Gang members kidnap 17 US missionaries in Haiti

Gang members kidnap 17 US missionaries in Haiti

The former field director, Dan Hooley, said on Sunday morning that all of the adults were staff members for the group, which has fewer than 30 people in the country
The kidnapping of the American missionaries  happened only a day after  the United Nations Security Council extended its mission in Haiti by nine months  in a unanimous vote on  Friday.
The kidnapping of the American missionaries happened only a day after the United Nations Security Council extended its mission in Haiti by nine months in a unanimous vote on Friday.
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Maria Abi-Habib, Ruth Graham, Constant Meheut   |   Published 18.10.21, 01:22 AM

Seventeen people, including three children, associated with an American Christian aid group were kidnapped on Saturday by a gang in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as they were leaving an orphanage, according to a former field director for the group, Christian Aid Ministries.

The former field director, Dan Hooley, said on Sunday morning that all of the adults were staff members for the group, which has fewer than 30 people in the country. Local authorities said the group that was kidnapped included 16 Americans and one Canadian. Dooley said a 2-year-old and another young child were among them.

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Christian Aid Ministries said in a “prayer alert” that the missionaries were based in Titanyen, about 17km north of Port-au-Prince, and that they were taken on their way home from visiting an orphanage in Fond Parisien.

The alert went on to say that “the field director’s family and one other man had stayed at the base. All the other staff who were on the visit to the orphanage were abducted.”

It also asked for prayers and that “the gang members would come to repentance and faith in Christ”.

Haiti has been in a state of political upheaval for years, and kidnappings of the rich and poor alike are alarmingly common. But even in a country accustomed to widespread lawlessness, the abduction of such a large group of Americans shocked officials for its brazenness.

Violence is surging across the capital, Port-au-Prince, where by some estimates, gangs now control roughly half of the city.

Security has broken down as the Caribbean country’s politics have disintegrated. Demonstrators furious at widespread corruption demanded the ouster of President Jovenel Moïse two years ago, effectively paralysing the country.

Since then, gangs have become only more assertive. They operate at will, kidnapping children on their way to school and pastors in the middle of delivering their services.

The nation’s political turmoil intensified further after Moïse was assassinated in his home in July, a killing that remains unsolved.

The kidnapping of the American missionaries happened only a day after the United Nations Security Council extended its mission in Haiti by nine months in a unanimous vote on Friday.

“We need to track down where they are and see if negotiations — without paying ransom — are possible. Or do whatever we need to do, on a military front or a police front,” Congressman Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN on Sunday.

Asked if it could confirm the kidnapping, a spokesperson for the US state department said only that it was aware of the reports, adding: “The welfare and safety of US citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the department of state.”

Parts of the Haitian capital, including where the kidnappings occurred, are so dangerous that many residents have fled, leaving once-bustling streets nearly abandoned. Many of the streets have been surrendered to the gangs, with few pedestrians venturing out even during the day.

‘Most dangerous’

The gang that the police say kidnapped the 17 missionaries and their family members is among Haiti’s most dangerous and one of the first to engage in mass kidnappings.

The gang, known as 400 Mawozo, controls the area that the missionaries were abducted from in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince. The group has sown terror for several months in the suburbs, engaging in armed combat with rival gangs and perpetrating the kidnapping of businessmen and police officers.

The gang has also introduced a new type of kidnapping in Haiti — kidnapping en masse. For the first time Haiti began to see entire groups kidnapped while transiting on buses or together on the streets.

The gang is also believed to have killed Anderson Belony, a famous sculptor, on Tuesday, according to local news media reports. Belony had worked to improve his impoverished community.

New York Times News Service



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