Haiti gangs suspected after 6 nuns kidnapped from bus in Port-au-Prince

Jan. 19 (UPI) — Six Catholic nuns and other travelers were kidnapped from a bus Friday in Haiti’s capital.

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince confirmed the kidnapping to the Miami Herald. The nuns were members of the congregation of St. Anne in Port-au-Prince. The incident occurred Friday morning near Avenue Christopher.

President P. Morachel Bonhomme of the Catholic Church-affiliated group Haitian Conference of the Religious in a statement asked Haitians to pray for the safe return of the hostages and mourned “too many kidnappings” filling people’s souls with “sadness and fear.”

“May the Spirit of strength be given to the Sisters of St. Anne to find a way out of this terrible situation,” Bonhomme said. “May the solidarity of the consecrated people of Haiti and the world help them overcome this difficult ordeal.”

Though the kidnappers were not identified, the area is controlled by the Grande Ravine and Village de Dieu gangs, who are likely suspects. Haiti has been in the grips of a gang violence and kidnapping epidemic following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Gangs also have taken over about 80% of Port-au-Prince, according to Assessment Capacities Project, a nonprofit that collects data for humanitarian groups. Armed gangs were blamed for at least 3,000 kidnappings and killing nearly 4,000 Hatians last year, according to the United Nations.

Port-au-Prince in particular has been a hotbed of gang violence in recent days. Several houses in the Solino area were set on fire and at least 20 people were killed over the past week.

Violent protests exploded all over the country Thursday, inspired by former rebel leader Guy Philippe, who called for Haitians to take to the streets to oust Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Philippe returned to Haiti after nine years in U.S. custody and has since been gathering armed men and police officers to lead a Haitian “revolution.”

Alix Dorsainvil and her child were kidnapped in July and held captive for nearly two weeks before they were released. The U.S. State Department designated Haiti as a “do not travel” country in response to the incident.

This is not the first time members of the clergy have been targeted, either, as five priests and two nuns were kidnapped in Port-au-Prince in 2021. They were released nearly three weeks later.


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