Up to 17 American U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti after leaving orphanage

Written by on October 17, 2021

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Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor’s office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

  • A security official told AFP news agency that the “armed gang” that kidnapped the group of “between 15 and 17” Americans had for months “been engaged in theft and kidnappings.”
  • A State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement that it was aware of the reports. The spokesperson added that they had nothing additional to add immediately, but said the “welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities” of the department.

The big picture: Haiti has been gripped by violence since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last July.

  • The Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince reported a surge in abductions in Haiti from 73 in August to 117 in September, per the Washington Post, which notes the country has the “highest per capita kidnapping rate on Earth.”

Editor’s note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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