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Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

American officials and authorities in Haiti are working to try and free 17 hostages from a U.S.-based missionary group who were kidnapped in Port-au-Prince over the weekend, AP reported Monday.

The latest: Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement Sunday, "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children." The Ohio-based organization said they were on a trip to visit an orphanage when they were kidnapped Saturday.

What they're saying: A State Department spokesperson confirmed in an emailed statement Sunday that 16 U.S. citizens were among those abducted in greater Port-au-Prince.

  • The spokesperson added that the "welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities" of the department.
  • Christian Aid Ministries urged people in its statement to join "us in praying for those who are being held hostage, the kidnappers and the families, friends and churches of those affected."

The big picture: Haiti has been gripped by violence since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last July — with police receiving at least 328 kidnapping reports in the first eight months of 2021, compared with 234 in total for 2020, a UN agency in Haiti found last month, AP notes.

  • A rights group in Port-au-Prince reported abductions surged from 73 in August to 117 in September, per WashPost, which notes the country has the "highest per capita kidnapping rate on Earth."
  • While it was not immediately clear why the Americans were taken, abductions have affected all social classes in Haiti in recent weeks — with kidnappers demanding anything from $100 to six figures in ransom, WashPost reports.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

60 mins ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."

Progressives to file resolution to strip Boebert's committee seats

Rep. Lauren Boebert walking through the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House progressives are planning to introduce a resolution on Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The move, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as progressives — anxious to see the right-wing firebrand face retribution for her recent comments — have grown frustrated by Democratic leadership's inaction on the issue.

Roger Stone won't cooperate with Jan. 6 panel

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone speaking in front of the Supreme Court on Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone won't cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and will invoke the Fifth Amendment right not to testify, his attorney said Tuesday evening.

Why it matters: The announcement, first reported by ABC News, came hours after former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wouldn't cooperate with the probe.