The notorious gang has been blamed for abducting 17 missionaries in Haiti

The U.S. State Department confirmed Monday (Oct. 1) that 1 missionary U.S. citizen abducted over the weekend in Haiti, CNN reported.

“We are in regular contact with senior Haitian authorities and will continue to work with them and inter-agency partners,” a State Department official said.

CNN quoted a Haitian source as saying that the notorious “Ma00 Mao” gang was behind the abduction of 16 Americans and one Canadian.

Related: Haiti Crisis: 5 Things to Learn About the Terrifying Earthquake

A statement from Christian Aid Missionaries posted on Sunday (October 1) said the missionaries were abducted on Saturday (October 16) while visiting an orphanage. The abductees include five men, seven women and five children.

“Join us in praying for the families, friends and churches of the hostages, the abductors, and the victims,” ​​the statement said. “Pray for those who seek God’s guidance and decide on this.”

The kidnappers contacted the missionary agency, CNN reported. No details were available on any talks on ransom.

Citing data from the Haiti-based non-profit Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, CNN reported that Ma00 Mao usually demanded a ransom of about ড 20,000.

Kidnappings by gangs have risen nearly 300 percent since July, with Haitians probably the target. Ma00 Mao, who was once an expert in car theft, has led the way in mass kidnappings in Caribbean countries.

Related: Crisis in Haiti: White House Deputy Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre Outlines US Assistance Efforts

CBS News reported that a few days before the abduction, high-ranking U.S. officials in Haiti met with their Haitian counterparts in Haiti. They pledged resources to the Haiti National Police to include 15 15 million to reduce gang activity.

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