Seven Catholic clergy, including two French, kidnapped in Haiti: church spokesman

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI,- JUNE 10: Worn posters from political candidates line a wall that shields a construction site for a church in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI:  a construction site for a church in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Seven Catholic clergy, five of them Haitian and two French, were kidnapped Sunday in Haiti, said the spokesman of the Bishop’s Conference for the island nation, which has been rocked by unrest.

The five priests and two nuns were abducted in the morning in Croix-des-Bouquets, a commune northeast of the capital Port-au-Prince, while they were “on their way to the installation of a new parish priest,” Father Loudger Mazile told AFP.

The kidnappers had demanded a $1 million ransom for the group, which includes one French priest and one French nun, he added.

The Haitian Conference of Religious (CHR) said in a statement that three other people had also been kidnapped at same time.

Authorities suspect an armed gang called “400 Mawozo” — which is active in kidnappings — is behind the abduction, according to a police source.

The French embassy in Haiti did not respond to AFP’s request for comment.

Kidnappings for ransom have surged in recent months in Port-au-Prince and other provinces, reflecting the growing influence of armed gangs in the Caribbean nation.