Up to 17 U.S. missionaries and family kidnapped in Haiti

Police line tape. Crime scene investigation. Forensic science.

As many as 17 American Christian missionaries and their families, including children, were kidnapped on Saturday by gang members in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, U.S. media reported.

The kidnapping happened after the missionaries left an orphanage in the crisis-engulfed Caribbean nation, the New York Times and CNN said.

The Washington Post reported that an audio from the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said “men, women and children” associated with the group were being held by an armed gang.

“The mission field director and the American embassy are working to see what can be done,” the audio was quoted as saying. “Pray that the gang members will come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.”

The victims included 14 adults and three minors, CNN said, citing an unnamed source in Haiti’s security forces.

A surge in gang violence has displaced thousands and hampered economic activity in the poorest country in the Americas. Violence spiraled after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July and an earthquake in August which killed over 2,000 people.