US missionaries killed in Haiti gang violence

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US missionaries killed in Haiti gang violence

A US missionary couple were among three people killed in Haiti as widespread gang violence continues to plague the country.

Natalie Lloyd, 21, her 23-year-old husband David, and Jude Montis, a 20-year-old Haitian, were ambushed by gunmen as they left a church.

The couple’s deaths were confirmed on Facebook by Natalie’s father, Missouri State Senator Ben Baker.

“They were attacked by gangs this evening and were both killed,” he wrote. “They went to heaven together.”

The couple were married in 2022.

Their organisation, Missions in Haiti, confirmed to US media that Mr Montis was the third victim.

In an earlier Facebook post, the organisation said that the three were attacked by two separate armed groups, beginning with an attack by gunmen in three vehicles.

After another group arrived and a gang member was shot dead, the three missionaries were trapped in a house while the gang went “into full attack mode”, the post added.

“They are holed up in there, the gangs have shot all the windows out of the house and continued to shoot,” the post said.

Missions in Haiti confirmed that all three were dead three hours later.

The state department is aware of the deaths, a spokesperson told the BBC’s US partner CBS.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” the spokesperson said. “We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”

On X/Twitter, Missouri Governor Mike Parson called the deaths “absolutely heart-breaking news”.

In a similar incident in 2021, 17 North American missionaries were kidnapped and held east of Port-au-Prince.

Five were released and 12 ultimately escaped by using stars for navigation to trek through dense bush.

Missions in Haiti has been operating in the country since 2000, and is largely focused on helping Haitian children.

For weeks, gangs had been carrying out deadly co-ordinated attacks, demanding the resignation of the then Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

He agreed to step down in March. Nine members of the transitional council have now been sworn in to lead the country.

But the gangs have capitalised on the power vacuum left by Mr Henry’s exit and expanded their control over large swathes of the country.

Kenya is due to deploy police forces to Haiti at the head of an international force aimed at helping the country’s transitional authorities restore order.

Earlier this week, the UN children’s agency, Unicef, warned that the violence and widespread malnutrition have brought Haiti’s health system to “the verge of collapse”.

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