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Officials: American missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo taken on December 20, 2019 shows people walking on the street ahead of gang shootings in downtown Port-au-Prince. (Photo by AFP)

A criminal gang in Haiti has kidnapped a group of Americans consisting of Christian missionaries and their families.

The group of between 15 and 17 people, three of which are children, were abducted in Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince.

Media reports said they were traveling to Titanyen after visiting an orphanage in the Croix des Bouquets area.

A local official told media the abductees were being held by the "400 Mawozo" gang.

The source added that the gang has for months been engaged in theft and kidnappings in the area between Port-au-Prince and the border with the Dominican Republic

There has been a surge in gang violence following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July followed by an earthquake in August which killed over 2,000 people.

Moise was shot at his private home on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince by a group of trained foreign assassins linked to the CIA.

Haitian police blamed a 28-member outfit consisting of Americans and Colombians for the killing of Moise.

Haiti’s National Police Chief Leon Charles said in July that "a team of 28 assailants, 26 of whom were Colombian" carried out the operation to assassinate the president. According to the Pentagon, the attackers received US military training.

Moise was shot dead and his wife seriously wounded in the deadly attack.

People in Haiti are also grappling with armed gangs, recurrent natural disasters, and a shortage of food supplies.

The country wanted to push through controversial constitutional reforms aimed at strengthening the executive branch, which were backed by Moise.

The reforms, however, were overwhelmingly rejected by the opposition and many civil society organizations.

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