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Haiti is still in turmoil, and this isn’t going to help. As many as 17 Americans were kidnapped in the Caribbean nation by alleged gang members.

According to the New York Times, on Saturday (Oct. 16) missionaries associated with an American Christian aid group were kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as they exited an orphanage. This information comes from a former representative of Christian Aid Ministries.

The former field director, Dan Hooley, said Sunday morning that all of the adults were staff members for the group, which has fewer than 30 people in the country. Local authorities said the group that was kidnapped included 16 Americans and one Canadian. Mr. Dooley said a 2-year-old and another young child were among them.

Christian Aid Ministries said in a “prayer alert” that the missionaries were based in Titanyen, about 11 miles north of Port-au-Prince and that they were taken on their way home from visiting an orphanage in Fond Parisien. The alert went on to say that “the field director’s family and one other man had stayed at the base. All the other staff who were on the visit to the orphanage were abducted.”

Gang violence has been a problem in Port-au-Prince for years and has only heightened recently.

Kidnappings are nothing new in Haiti, but 17 people from an American-bassed mission group nevertheless raised eyebrows. Port-au-Prince is reportedly controlled by gangs and some of the recent violence includes a school bus being shot at and a public transportation bus being hijacked.

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home in July, with many believing it was an inside job. Nevertheless, his murder remains unsolved.

So far the State Department has been reluctant to send in troops in hopes of settling the unrest in Haiti. The dubious history of American involvement in Haitian politics is a powder keg. If any of the victims are harmed, expect things to escalate quickly.

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