The FBI and State Department are working toward gaining release of the seventeen hostages – seven women, five men, five children, all Americans except one Canadian – were seized Saturday in the community of Ganthier east of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, reports USA Today. The kidnapping was the work of the 400 Mawozo gang, which controls the area where the attack took place, Haitian police say. The seventeen hostages are part of the Christian Aid Ministries that have worked in Haiti as part of its global mission “to minister to physical and spiritual needs.”
Aid groups in Haiti often rely on guarantees of safe passage from gang leaders who issue public assurances for aid workers, but the disintegration of government control in recent months has fueled an alarming increase in kidnappings. In Haiti, local unions and other organizations were launching strikes Monday to protest the nation’s rampant kidnappings and violence. The U.S. State Department has said that it was in regular contact with senior Haitian authorities and would continue to work with them to win freedom for the hostages.