A street vendor prepares her produce for sale in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. A group of 17 U.S. missionaries including children was kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, Oct. 16, according to a voice message sent to various religious missions by an organization with direct knowledge of the incident. (AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn)
Christian Aid Ministries did not name any of the abducted people
A Canadian was among 17 missionaries allegedly kidnapped in Haiti on Saturday, Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement on its website.
The U.S.-based mission organization said Sunday that five children are also believed to be in the group.
The organization said they were on returning from a trip to help build an orphanage.
“We request urgent prayer for the group of Christian Aid Ministries workers who were abducted,” the organization said in its statement. “We are seeking God’s direction for a resolution, and authorities are seeking ways to help.”
The organization did not name any of the abducted people, including the Canadian.
Global Affairs Canada said Sunday it was aware of media reports that a Canadian citizen had been kidnapped in Haiti.
“Canadian government officials in Haiti are working with local authorities,” Global Affairs said in an emailed statement.
“The Government of Canada’s first priority is always the safety and security of its citizens. Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed.”
Haitian police Insp. Frantz Champagne says the 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped the group in Ganthier, east of the capital Port-au-Prince.
Authorities say the gang, whose name roughly translates to 400 “inexperienced men,” controls the Croix-des-Bouquets area that includes Ganthier.
Haiti is once again struggling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings that had diminished in recent months following the fatal shooting of President Jovenel Moise in July and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck its southwest region in August, killing more than 2,200 people.
A United Nations report says 328 kidnappings were reported in Haiti in the first eight months of this year, compared with 234 for all of 2020.
Authorities say the ransoms demanded by the gangs have ranged from as low as a couple hundred dollars to more than $1 million.
Kidnapping victims have included schoolchildren, doctors, police officers, and busloads of passengers. In April, one gang kidnapped five priests and two nuns, which prompted protests.
Haiti is now preparing for more protests on Monday to decry the lack of security in the impoverished country.
—The Canadian Press