Seven members of the Catholic clergy, including two French citizens, were kidnapped in Haiti on Sunday, said the spokesman for the Episcopal Conference of the island nation, which was shaken by unrest.
Five priests and two nuns were kidnapped in the morning in Croix-des-Bouquets, a town east of the capital, Port-au-Prince, Father Ludger Mazile told AFP. They were “on their way to the installation of a new priest”, he added.
The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of $ 1 million for the group, which includes a French priest and a French nun, he added.
Haitian authorities suspect an armed gang called “400 Mawozo”, which is active in the kidnappings, to be behind the kidnapping, according to a police source.
The French Embassy in Haiti did not respond to AFP’s request for comment.
Kidnappings for ransom have increased in recent months in Port-au-Prince and other provinces, reflecting the growing influence of armed gangs in the Caribbean country.
“It’s too much. The time has come for these inhumane acts to stop,” Bishop Pierre-AndrÃ© Dumas of the Haitian commune of Miragoane told AFP.
“The church prays and stands in solidarity with all the victims of this heinous act,” he said.
In March, the Haitian government declared a month-long state of emergency to restore state authority in gang-controlled areas, including the capital.
The measure was prompted by the actions of armed gangs who “kidnap people for ransom, openly declare it, steal and loot public and private property, and openly confront public security forces,” according to the presidential decree.