Five Catholic priests and two nuns were part of a group of people abducted on Sunday in Haiti, Church officials said.
Reports indicate that the kidnapped persons include five Haitians and two French citizens – a priest and a nun. Three other lay persons were also reportedly abducted at the same time.
The incident took place in the municipality of Croix-des-Bouquet, northeast of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, while the group was preparing to attend the installation of a new parish priest.
Separate reports indicate that the kidnappers, suspected to have been part of an armed gang, have demanded a ransom for the release of the people in their custody.
“This is too much,” said Bishop Pierre-Andre Dumas of Miragoâne. “The time has come for these inhumane acts to stop.”
The Haitian Conference of Religious (CHR) has expressed its deep sorrow, but also its anger at the situation, which the group says has been going on for over a decade.
For several years, the Island nation of Haiti has battled with political and socio-economic crises, further worsened by Covid-19 and a worsening atmosphere of insecurity.
The situation of political instability and a spike in kidnappings by gangs have led to recent protests by thousands of citizens, who accuse authorities of not sufficiently equipping the police in their fight against insecurity in the Caribbean nation.
In March, the government declared a state of emergency for one month in several areas of the country in an effort to stem the upsurge of crime and to allow the National Police of Haiti to regain control of areas overrun by gang activity.