A Canadian citizen is among 17 missionaries from Christian Aid Ministries who were kidnapped in Haiti as they left an orphanage, the religious organization said on Sunday.
The missionary group, which also includes 16 US citizens, consists of five men, seven women and five children, Christian Aid Ministries confirmed in online statement.
Global Affairs Canada said Canadian government officials in Haiti were working with local authorities and NGOs involved “to gather more information.”
“The first priority of the Government of Canada is always the safety and security of its citizens,” the agency said, adding that due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, “no other information can be disclosed ”.
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Christian Aid Ministries said the missionaries were returning home after building an orphanage when they were kidnapped.
On its website, the Christian Aid Ministries promotes itself as a “reliable and effective channel for Amish, Mennonites and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to meet physical and spiritual needs around the world.”
Haitian police have singled out a notorious gang called “400 Mawozo” known for their brazen kidnappings and murders.
Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne told The Associated Press that the 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped the group – which also included elderly people – in Ganthier, a commune east of the capital Port-au- Prince.
The gang, whose name means around 400 “inexperienced men”, are known to have carried out kidnappings and carjackings in the area and also extort business owners, authorities said.
Crime and violence have increased in Haiti as the country grapples with the assassination of its president, Jovenel Moïse.
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the United States was in contact with Haitian authorities to try to resolve the case.
The kidnapping comes just days after high-level U.S. officials visited the country and pledged to provide more resources to Haiti’s national police force, including an additional $ 15 million to help reduce violence against children. gangs.
– with files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press
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