A criminal gang kidnaped at least 15 American missionaries in Haiti.

source: www.dw.com

Among the prisoners is a group of children returning to an orphanage in the island's capital.

On Saturday, at least 15 American missionaries were abducted by a criminal gang on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

Between 15 and 17 missionaries, including children, were left in the hands of an armed gang that has been carrying out kidnapping and robberies for months in the area between the capital of Haiti and the border with the Dominican Republic, said the source, who said he could not confirm if the captors have asked for the payment of a ransom.

Those detained include minors who were returning to an orphanage in Haiti.

The well-being and safety of American citizens abroad is one of our top priorities at the State Department. We know this information, and we have nothing to add at the moment, "a US government spokesman told AFP.

Armed gangs, which have controlled the poorest districts of the Haitian capital for years, have extended their power to and around Port-au-Prince, where the number of kidnappings for extortion is on the rise.

More than 600 such crimes were recorded in the first three quarters of 2021, compared to 231 in the same period in 2020, according to the Center for Human Rights in the Haitian capital.

A deep political crisis has paralyzed the socio-economic development of Haiti for many years.

The assassination on July 7 of President Jovenel Moïse by an armed commando at his private residence further plunged the Caribbean country into uncertainty.

Such has been the severity of the crisis on the island that since Moïse's death, there has been an increase in the number of citizens of that country trying to leave in search of a better future.

Last week, 126 migrants, the majority Haitians, were rescued Saturday from a container abandoned by Guatemalan Police officers.  The group was trying to get to Mexico to cross into the United States.

According to a press conference by the Guatemalan National Civil Police spokesman Jorge Aguilar,  106 came from Haiti, eleven from Nepal, and nine from Ghana.

The agents were alerted to an abandoned trailer on a highway between the towns of Nueva Concepción and Cocales in the south of the country.

As they approached the vehicle, they called for help and blows on the walls of the container signaled to agents, who opened the doors and found 126 people inside.