US State Department monitoring reports of kidnapped couple in Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Saturday the government is aware of reports of two U.S. citizens missing in Haiti, after media outlets said a Florida couple had been kidnapped.
Abigail Toussaint and Jean-Dickens Toussaint, both 33, were taken near capital Port-au-Prince and have been held for days, according to an online petition started by a woman who said she is a relative of the couple.
The couple was on a trip to visit family and attend a festival when they were kidnapped during a bus ride, the relative said, according to CNN.
"We are aware of reports of two U.S. citizens missing in Haiti," the State Department spokesperson said. "When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families however we can."
A spokesperson for Haiti's national police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Haiti's gangs have grown in strength since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, with large portions of the capital and much of the countryside considered lawless territory.
The security situation has devolved further in recent months with routine gun fights between police officers and the gangs. Bloody turf battles have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced.
Seventeen missionaries from the United States and Canada were taken hostage and held for ransom in 2021 while on a trip to Haiti organized by the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. The group said ransom money was paid for the release of the captives, but a dozen had escaped on their own.
(Reporting by Harold Isaac in Port-au-Prince, Cassandra Garrison in Mexico City and Rami Ayyub in Washington; editing by Diane Craft)