By Jacqueline Charles for Miami Herald
A group of American missionaries has been kidnapped on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, allegedly by a notorious gang that was behind the abduction of several Roman Catholic clergy earlier this year.
The missionaries, 16 Americans and a Canadian citizen, including several children, were kidnapped Saturday in the community of Ganthier, just east of the capital, according to a human rights center that monitors kidnapping. The group was reportedly taken in the area of La Tremblay after returning from visiting an orphanage,
The gang believed to be behind the kidnapping is known as 400 Mawozo, which operates in the area of Croix-des-Bouquets and is known for attacking vehicles and kidnapping people from cars and buses.
“This is the type of kidnapping that 400 Mawozo do; we call it a collective kidnapping where they kidnap any entire bus or car,” said Gédéon Jean, who runs the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince, which monitors kidnapping in the country. Jean said the gang is responsible for about 80% of the kidnappings taking place in Haiti.
Members of the group are part of Christian Aid Ministries. The charity said in a statement Sunday that requested “urgent prayers.”
The charity confirmed the Saturday abduction happened while the missionaries were on a trip to visit an orphanage.
“We are seeking God’s direction for a resolution, and authorities are seeking ways to help,” the statement said.
The group of 17 includes five men, seven women and five children, the charity said,
“Join us in praying for those who are being held hostage, the kidnappers, and the families, friends, and churches of those affected. Pray for those who are seeking God’s direction and making decisions regarding this matter,” the statement said.
A source who knows many of the victims said they are part of the Mennonite community and live in Haiti.
While U.S. officials, including the FBI, have been alerted about the kidnapping, Haiti National Police spokeswoman Marie-Michelle Verrier said they have not been able to confirm the abduction.
“We have no information and no one has filed a report,” she said. Continue reading