Haiti gang demands $17M ransom for kidnapped American missionaries
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - American missionaries have been traveling to the Carribean country of Haiti for decades. But in recent weeks, mission trips have become increasingly risky as the area experiences an increase in violence.
Kidnappings have become a frequent occurrence due to the nation's political instability, civil unrest, and extreme poverty.
Over the weekend, sixteen U.S. nationals and one Canadian who were visiting an orphanage on Saturday as part of their work for Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped by one of the country's most notorious gangs, a group called 400 Mawozo.
The gang abducted the missionaries Saturday in Port-au-Prince after the missionaries visited the Maison La Providence de Dieu orphanage, which is situated in a suburb called Croix-des-Bouquets.
The gang is reportedly holding the victims hostage in a safe house just outside of Croix-des-Bouquets, and demanding a total of $17 million for the group's release, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The FBI and Haitian police are in talks with the kidnappers, and negotiations may take weeks.
The 400 Mawozo gang, which reportedly consists of 150 members, is believed to be responsible for the abductions of dozens of people this year alone.
The group typically demands ransoms of around $20,000.
CNN reports that at least 628 kidnappings have occurred in Haiti since January, and 29 of the abducted victims were foreigners.
Desktop NewsClick to open Continuous News in a sidebar that updates in real-time.
WATCH: New LSU coach Brian Kelly arrives in Baton Rouge
High school coaches give Brian Kelly advice on how to tackle recruiting...
See the contract to get Brian Kelly as the new LSU Football...
Fans share their excitement about new LSU head coach Brian Kelly
New LSU coach Brian Kelly arrives in Baton Rouge