The Royal Canadian Mounted Police says it’s working with police both in Haiti and the U.S. in the abduction of a group of 17 missionaries, including a Canadian, as the Caribbean country once again struggles with a spike in gang-related violence.

On Sunday, Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said a group of its missionaries, 12 adults and five children, were in Haiti to visit an orphanage when they were abducted near the capital, Port-au-Prince. A Haitian police inspector told The Associated Press they believe the notorious 400 Mawozo gang, a group with a long record of killings and extortion, kidnapped the group.

“The RCMP takes this situation very seriously and is collaborating with Haitian and American policing authorities on this incident,” said spokesperson Robin Percival in an email.

“The RCMP does not comment on ongoing investigations conducted by other countries. The RCMP will not comment further on this specific matter at the present time.”

A White House spokesperson said Monday that the FBI is also working to locate the missing.

GAC says it’s also working with local authorities

In a statement to CBC News, Global Affairs Canada said it “is aware of media reports that a Canadian citizen was kidnapped in Haiti.”

“Canadian government officials in Haiti are working with local authorities and implicated NGOs to gather more information,” spokesperson Lama Khodr said.

“The Government of Canada’s first priority is always the safety and security of its citizens. Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed.”

This Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021 photo shows the logo for Christian Aid Ministries in Berlin, Ohio, on a vehicle. A group of 17 missionaries including children has been kidnapped by a gang in Haiti, according to a voice message sent to various religious missions by the organization. The message from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said the missionaries were on their way home from building an orphanage. (Tom E. Puskar/The Associated Press)

On Monday, thousands of workers in Haiti angry about the country’s lack of security went on strike in protest following the kidnapping, one of the largest reported kidnapping of its kind in recent years.

As part of the strike, public transportation drivers stayed home and businesses and schools were closed.

At least 328 kidnapping victims were reported to Haiti’s national police in the first eight months of this year, compared with a total of 234 for all of 2020, according to a report issued last month by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti.

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