Haitian Police Inspector Frantz Champagne said a notorious Haitian gang kidnapped 17 people from an American missionary organization east of Port-au-Prince on Saturday. The Associated Press.
400 Mawzo kidnapped 16 US citizens, one Canadian from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. According to the group, a total of five children, seven women and five men, were taken to the Croix des Bouquets suburb while visiting an orphanage.
“Join us in praying for the families, friends and churches of the hostages, kidnappers and those affected,” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement. “As an organization, we entrust this situation to God and trust Him to see us.”
400 Mawazo were convicted earlier this year of kidnapping a group of Catholic priests and nuns. He was eventually released.
The US State Department said in a statement that it was working with Haitian authorities on the investigation.
It comes as violence and civil unrest in Haiti follows the assassination of President Jovenel Mosse in July and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people in August.
A demonstration is scheduled for Monday to protest the lack of security in the country AP informed of.
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Kidnappings in Haiti increased by 300 percent in three months, says nonprofit
There has been a nearly 300 percent increase in kidnapping incidents in Haiti from July to September, according to a non-profit based in Port-au-Prince.
The Center for Analysis and Research for Human Rights (CARDH) said there had been at least 628 abductions from January to September, including 29 foreign nationals from three countries.
According to CARDH, the 400 Mawozo was once notorious for car theft, but has pioneered the “mass” kidnapping of large groups from buses and cars.
CARDH said 400 Mawjo typically pays a ransom of about $20,000, while local officials with the Associated Press say the gang demands ransoms ranging from a few hundred dollars to $1 million.
US issues Level 4 travel advisory for Haiti amid kidnappings
The US Embassy in Haiti has issued a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory to the country following the abduction of 16 US citizens outside Port-au-Prince.
The advisory cited “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest and COVID-19”.
“The kidnapping is widespread and victims regularly include US citizens,” the advisory said. “Abductees may use sophisticated planning or take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and even convoys have been attacked. Kidnapping cases often involve ransom negotiations and U.S. civilian victims during kidnapping. are physically harmed. Victims’ families have paid thousands of dollars to save their family members.”
The State Department confirmed that it is working with local authorities in the investigation.
“The welfare and safety of American citizens abroad is one of the State Department’s top priorities,” a department spokesman said in a statement. “We are in regular contact with senior Haiti officials and will continue to work with them and with inter-agency partners.”