Official: 8 Turkish citizens kidnapped from a bus in Haiti

A diplomatic official told The Associated Press that eight Turkish citizens were kidnapped in the Haitian capital

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Eight Turkish citizens have been kidnapped in the Haitian capital, an official told The Associated Press on Monday, apparently the latest in a string of high-profile kidnappings by powerful gangs.

Hugues Josue, Turkey’s honorary consul in Haiti, said the group boarded a bus in the neighboring Dominican Republic and were abducted late Sunday afternoon in the Croix-des-Bouquets neighborhood of Port- to the Prince. Those kidnapped were five men and three women, he said.

Josue said he had no details of a possible ransom demand and no additional information was immediately available.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters that a “crisis desk” had been set up in Haiti and that Turkey was following the issue closely.

“They are believed to have been kidnapped for ransom,” Cavusoglu said. “There are negatives about the state of their health at the moment.”

Croix-des-Bouquets is controlled by the 400 Mawozo gang, which kidnapped 17 members of a US-based missionary group in the same area last October. The gang demanded $1 million in ransom and held most of them until December.

A diplomat from the Dominican Republic was kidnapped in the same neighborhood earlier this month and released later.

Last week, the Haiti National Police announced that one of the main leaders of the 400 Mawozo gang, Germine Joly, has been extradited to the United States. He faces charges of kidnapping, smuggling and importing weapons of war.

Violence and insecurity have prompted Haitians to stage protests to demand safer neighborhoods.

Gang violence has forced dozens of schools and businesses to close in recent weeks and displaced thousands of families, many of whom have sought temporary shelter in schools and shelters as aid groups note a urgent need of food and items including blankets and mattresses.

The United Nations announced on Friday that at least 75 people had been killed in the latest gang clashes, including women and children, and more than 65 injured. He also noted gang rapes of children as young as 10, adding that the violence has severely limited travel from the capital to northern and southern regions of Haiti.

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Associated Press reporter Suzan Frazer in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

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