At least 16 American missionaries were kidnapped in Haiti on Saturday.
Dan Hooley, the former field director for Christian Aid Ministries, said 16 Americans and one Canadian affiliated with the group were kidnapped.
The group included a 2-year-old and another young child. They were taken after leaving a Port-au-Prince orphanage, he said, according to The New York Times.
“The mission field director and the American embassy are working to see what can be done,” the voice on the recording said.
“Pray that the gang members will come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ,” the recording said.
The Post report said organizations that monitor kidnappings in the troubled island nation confirmed a gang called 400 Mawozo abducted the Christians.
In April, the gang kidnapped five priests and two nuns. They were all later released.
Haiti has the highest per-capita kidnapping rate in the world.
Gédéon Jean, director of the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Haiti, said the gang has a standard way of operating.
“The modus operandi is they take entire cars and buses,” Jean said. “Then they ask for a price to release everybody.”
The Post said that one American issued a plea for help over the social media platform WhatsApp while the kidnapping was in progress.
“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.
A report in the Daily Mail quoting the French-language Haitian publication Le Nouvelliste said the missionaries were returning from building an orphanage when they were taken.
The report said that roadblocks had been set up Saturday and that when the bus carrying the missionaries entered the area, it was stopped.
The Daily Mail, also citing Le Nouvelliste, reported that a police officer was shot dead by the gang during a chase, though it wasn’t clear if the chase took place before or after the kidnappings.
“Also Saturday, a chase reportedly ensued between the Narcotics Trafficking Brigade (BLTS) patrol and the alleged kidnappers,” the Daily Mail reported.
“Gunfire was exchanged between the law enforcement authority and the suspects.
“‘The patrol engaged this vehicle at avenue Christophe, not far from the FOKAL. A police officer was hit but the patrol continued the pursuit. The thugs’ vehicle struck another vehicle between rue Cameau and rue Monseigneur Guilloux. Several of these individuals left wounded. We, unfortunately, deplore the death of a police officer,’ BLTS Inspector Marie Michèle Verrier told Le Nouvelliste.”
The State Department issued a comment on the incident.
“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the department said in a statement. “We are aware of these reports and have nothing additional to offer at this time.”
The website for Christian Aid Ministries says that it “strives to be 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.”
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