(CMR) A group of 17 missionaries, including 16 Americans affiliated with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, wason Saturday. The missionaries were on their way home from visiting an orphanage.
The notorious 400 Mawozogang is behind the kidnapping near Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, officials say.
The group that was kidnapped included five men, seven women, and five children.
Christian Aid Ministries helps pay for school tuition, uniforms, textbooks, and meals for Haitians. In a statement, the ministry said, “We request urgent prayer for the group of Christian Aid Ministries workers who were abducted while on a trip to visit an orphanage.”
The five children are among the 16 Americans abducted. The other person is Canadian.
According to CBS News, one of those abducted posted a Whatsapp message calling for help.
“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,” it said.
It was not immediately clear if ransom had been requested in this case.
Haiti has one of the highest rates of kidnapping in the world. There have been more than 600 kidnappings recorded in the first three quarters of 2021, compared with 231 over the same period last year, BBC reported.
The “400 Mawozo” gang is known for mass kidnappings from buses and cars. The increase in kidnappings comes even as Haiti continues to reel from still reeling from aand the of its president earlier this summer.
“This is one of the reasons why it was such a tragedy to have those people deported back,” Garry Pierre-Pierre, founder and publisher of The Haitian Times, told CBS News correspondent. “There is no functioning government, and the gangs rule Port-au-Prince and the country at large.
“Let's get ready for the gangs to have the levers of government, to be passing edict and laws that will be respected by the population because they will be the ones in power. We're inching very closely to that.”