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Up to 17 U.S. missionaries reportedly kidnapped by gang members in Haiti

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The source warned that the investigation is ongoing and more information would be available on Sunday morning.

The missionaries were traveling by vehicle to Titanyen, north of the capital Port-au-Prince, on Saturday, after visiting an orphanage in the Croix des Bouquets region. They were abducted along the road between the two places.

CNN has contacted the Haitian justice ministry and the national police, but they have not yet commented.

An Ohio-based Christian aid group called Christian Aid Ministries has confirmed that missionaries and their abducted family members in Haiti are affiliated with it, according to a Washington Post report. The report cited a one-minute “prayer alert” from the organization and someone familiar with the kidnapping.

The “prayer alert” obtained by the newspaper indicated that “men, women and children” associated with the group were being held by an armed gang.

The one-minute recording confirms that those abducted include organization staff as well as family members returning from an on-site visit to an orphanage in Haiti, according to the report.

“The director of the field mission and the US Embassy are working to see what can be done,” the voice said on the recording, The Washington Post reported. “Pray that the gang members will come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.”

CNN has contacted Christian aid ministries directly via email and the number listed on their website, but have yet to receive a response.

One of the kidnapped missionaries, a U.S. citizen, also posted a call for help in a WhatsApp group as the kidnapping occurred, The Washington Post reported, citing a person familiar with the kidnapping who spoke under on condition of anonymity.

“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,” the message read.

It is not clear whether the message was a video or a text sent to the WhatsApp group, and there is also no information about the WhatsApp group itself in the Washington Post reports.

CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of this message or report.

A spokesperson for the US State Department said on Saturday evening he was aware of the information.

“The well-being and safety of US citizens abroad is one of the State Department’s highest priorities. We are aware of these reports and have nothing more to offer at this time,” said the spokesperson.

Kidnappings have increased in Haiti throughout 2021, with an increase of nearly 300% since July.

At least 628 kidnappings have taken place since January, including 29 of foreigners, according to data released earlier this month by the Center for Human Rights Analysis and Research, a nonprofit based in Port-au-Prince.

Earlier this month, Haitian Foreign Minister Claude Joseph called on the United Nations Security Council to strengthen the mandate of the United Nations special political mission in his country to help ensure the safety and protection of civilians , according to a press release UN press release.

“These are the legitimate expectations of people who have suffered enough from gang violence, kidnappings and rampant crime,” Joseph said.

This is a developing story.


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