Gang members reportedly adduct 17 U.S. Christian missionaries and their family members — including children in Haiti.
Haitian security officials said the kidnapping occurred on Saturday while the victims were leaving an orphanage.
Local officials for their part revealed that the missionaries were taken from a bus on its way to the airport to drop some members off in the island nation’s capital Port-au-Prince before going to another location in Haiti.
A US State Department spokesperson said the US gov’t is now exerting efforts to ensure the release of the victims.
“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the spokesperson said.
Before the kidnapping, in August Haiti suffered a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that killed hundreds of people and leveled buildings.