Canadian among 17 missionaries abducted in Haiti, religious group says

Click to play video: 'Seventeen missionaries kidnapped in Haiti include Canadian citizen'
Seventeen missionaries kidnapped in Haiti include Canadian citizen
WATCH: The U.S. State Department is investigating reports that 16 missionaries from America and one from Canada have been kidnapped in Haiti. The missionaries were going to visit an orphanage in the impoverished country, and organizations that monitor kidnappings there say the group was taken by a much-feared, violent gang known as the 400 Mawozo. Jennifer Johnson reports – Oct 17, 2021

A Canadian citizen is among 17 Christian Aid Ministries missionaries were abducted in Haiti as they were leaving an orphanage, the religious organization said on Sunday.

The group of missionaries, which also includes 16 U.S. citizens, consists of five men, seven women, and five children, Christian Aid Ministries confirmed in a statement online.

Global Affairs Canada said Canadian government officials in Haiti are working with local authorities and implicated NGOs “to gather more information.”

“The Government of Canada’s first priority is always the safety and security of its citizens,” the agency said, adding that due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, “no further information can be disclosed.”

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Christian Aid Ministries said the missionaries were on their way home from building an orphanage when they were kidnapped.

On its website, the Christian Aid Ministries refers to itself as a “a trustworthy and efficient channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.”

Haitian police have pointed the finger at a notorious gang called ‘400 Mawozo,’ known for its brazen kidnappings and killings.

Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne told The Associated Press that the 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped the group — which also included some elderly people — in Ganthier, a commune located east of the capital of Port-au-Prince.

The gang, whose name roughly means 400 “inexperienced men,” is known for carrying out kidnappings and carjackings in the area and also for extorting business owners, according to authorities.

Crime and violence have been surging through Haiti as the country grapples with the assassination of its president, Jovenel Moïse.

A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the United States is in touch with Haitian authorities in an attempt to resolve the case.

The kidnapping comes just days after high-level U.S. officials visited the country and promised to provide the Haiti National Police with more resources, including another $15 million to help reduce gang violence.

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More to come. 

— with files from the Associated Press and the Canadian Press

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