A French citizen has been kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, a spokesman for Haiti’s national police told AFP on Saturday, the latest abduction in the Caribbean nation as it grapples with powerful armed gangs.
“The police have been informed of the kidnapping yesterday of a French national,” Gary Desrosiers said, without giving the victim’s name or any other details.
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The kidnapping occurred during the day in a residential area in the heart of the capital city, the spokesman said.
Gangs have controlled Port-au-Prince’s poorest neighborhoods for decades and expanded their hold in recent years.
While they primarily fight each other to expand their area of influence, they also attack regular people.
In late April and early May, at least 148 people were killed by gangs in the northern neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, which are plagued by clashes between rival groups.
The gangs kidnap people of all socio-economic levels every day, demanding ransoms of several thousand to tens of thousands of US dollars. Kidnappings of foreigners are also recurrent.
In April 2021, two French clergymen travelling in a group of 10 people were held hostage for three weeks by one of the most powerful gangs, which controls the region between Port-au-Prince and the border with the Dominican Republic to the east.
On May 8, the same criminal group kidnapped twelve people, including eight young Turkish citizens, who were travelling by bus between Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince.
Only the driver of the vehicle and the hostess employed by the transport company have so far been released.
Since the beginning of the month, Haitian police have arrested several suspected gang members and others have been killed in operations, but poorly armed law enforcement officers are largely unable to rein in crime in the capital.
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