Authorities have pointed fingers at the 400 Mawozo gang as the kidnappers of 17 missionaries Including 16 Americans and one Canadian, and their families in Haiti. The missionaries were kidnapped at gunpoint on their way to Titanyen, north of the capital Port-Au-Prince.
Five men, seven women and six children number amongst the missing. The missionaries - who had travelled to the country with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries - were seized shortly after leaving the town of Croix-des-Bouquets, an area controlled by the gang. The Haitian government is in contact with their US counterparts who are seeking to locate and release their citizens.
Officials in Haitian security services say that the kidnapping fits with the modus operandi of the 400 Mawozo gangs which has been running kidnappings of everyone from locals to foreigners with impunity in the crisis-wracked country. Mawozo is also implicated in the kidnapping of Catholic clergy earlier this year for which they had demanded a ransom of 1 million dollars. More than 600 kidnappings were recorded in the first three quarters of 2021, compared with 231 over the same period last year, according to a local civil society group as quoted by the BBC.