Group of people including at least eight Turkish citizens kidnapped after travelling by bus from the Dominican Republic, officials say, amid a wave of gang violence in the Caribbean country.
Twelve people, eight of them Turkish citizens, have been kidnapped while travelling by bus in Haiti, officials said, as the Caribbean country struggles with a surge of attacks by increasingly powerful gangs.
The group was taken hostage on Sunday as it drove to the capital Port-au-Prince from the neighbouring Dominican Republic, Turkish consul Hugues Josue told the AFP news agency on Monday.
He said they were members of the Muslim association Ashape, which has since 2019 provided language courses and religious education, according to its website.
"During their abduction, they got off the bus and had time to contact their organisation," he said. Haitian police confirmed the kidnapping.
They were abducted east of Port-au-Prince, between the communes of Croix des Bouquets and Ganthier, Josue added, saying the five men and three women are aged between 20 and 26.
A ransom has reportedly been demanded, and diplomatic sources say they are working with local authorities to rescue the Turkish citizens.
Clashes between rival gangs
They were on a bus that left Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, at 9.00 am carrying "a Dominican driver, a Haitian hostess and 10 passengers," said Michaelle Durandis, a representative of the Metro bus company.
"Among the 10 passengers, there were eight Turks and two Haitians," she told Haitian radio Vision 2000, adding that she had had no contact after the vehicle crossed the border in the middle of the afternoon.
The United Nations said last week that clashes between rival gangs in northern Port-au-Prince have claimed the lives of at least 75 people since fresh violence erupted on April 24.
The world body said it was "deeply concerned by the rapid deterioration of the security situation" in the city.
For decades, armed gangs have run amok in the poorest neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince, but they have increased their hold across the Haitian capital and the country at large in recent years, sending murders and kidnappings skyrocketing.