American missionaries abducted in Haiti, officials say

According to Haitian security officials, 17 Christian missionaries from America and their family members, who had children, were abducted by a gang in Port-au-Prince on Saturday.

The details of the abduction remain unclear, but local officials said the missionaries were abducted from a bus heading to the airport to drop off some members of the group before heading to another destination in Haiti.

Haiti has been in political ups and downs for years, and abductions of the rich and the poor are alarmingly common. But even in a country accustomed to widespread lawlessness, the kidnapping of such a large group of Americans has shocked officials for its shamelessness.

Violence is on the rise across the capital, Port-au-Prince. According to some estimates, gangs now control about half of the city. On Monday, gangs opened fire on a school bus in Port-au-Prince, injuring at least five people, including students, while another public bus was also snatched by a gang.

Security has collapsed as the country’s politics has collapsed. Protesters outraged by widespread corruption demanded the ouster of President Jovenal Moss two years ago, which effectively crippled the country. The stalemate prevents patients from being treated in hospitals, prevents children from going to school, prevents workers from going to the rare jobs available, and even cuts off electricity in some parts of the country.

Since then, gangs have become more assertive. They act arbitrarily, kidnap children on their way to school, and are priests in the middle of providing their services.

In July, Mr. The country’s political unrest intensified after the assassination of Moses at his home, a murder that remains unresolved. The few remaining officials in the country soon began fighting for government control and the factionalism continued for months, with officials accusing each other of plotting to assassinate the president.

The abduction comes a day after the UN Security Council extended its mission to Haiti by nine months in a unanimous vote on Friday. Many Haitians have been urging the United States to send troops to stabilize the situation, but the Biden administration is reluctant to boot.

A State Department spokesman had no comment on Saturday night’s abduction in Haiti.

Some parts of the Haitian capital, where the abductions took place, are so dangerous that many residents have fled, leaving the once glittering streets almost abandoned. Many have surrendered near the roads, with some pedestrians getting out during the day.

Gangs have also kidnapped poor street vendors, and when they find nothing in their wallets, gang members sometimes claim that they sell things like radios and refrigerators in their homes. Earlier this year, a class of students gathered to raise money to pay a ransom for fellow students.

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