As many as 17 Christian missionaries from the United States and their families, including women and children, were kidnapped by a gang in Port-au-Prince on Saturday as they left an orphanage, officials said. Haitian security.
Details of the kidnapping were unclear, but local officials said the missionaries were kidnapped on an airport bus to drop off some of the group before continuing to another destination in Haiti.
Haiti has been in a state of political upheaval for years, and kidnappings of rich and poor alike are alarmingly frequent. But even in a country accustomed to widespread anarchy, the kidnapping of such a large group of Americans has shocked those responsible for its brazenness.
Violence is escalating in the capital, Port-au-Prince. By some estimates, gangs now control around half of the city. On Monday, gangs shot at a school bus in Port-au-Prince, injuring at least five people, including students, while another public bus was also hijacked by a gang.
Security collapsed as the country’s politics disintegrated. Protesters furious at widespread corruption demanded the ouster of President Jovenel Moïse two years ago, effectively crippling the country. The stalemate has prevented the sick from seeking treatment in hospitals, children from going to school, workers from scarce jobs available, and even prevented electricity from flowing in parts of the country.
Since then, the gangs have only become more assertive. They operate at will, kidnapping children on their way to school and pastors providing their services.
Political unrest in the country escalated further after the assassination of Mr. Moïse at his home in July, a murder that has yet to be clarified. The few remaining officials soon began to fight for control of the country, and factionalism continued for months, with officials accusing each other of participating in the plot to kill the president.