Officials blamed a Haitian gang for the kidnapping of 17 missionaries from the United States and Canada, some of them children, at a Haiti airport on Saturday.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children.

ABC News reported that a gang abducted the group at a checkpoint in Haiti during an airport run. A source at the Haitian presidential office told ABC News that the kidnapping occurred at the intersection of Carrefour Boen and La Tremblay 17. 

The Haitian government suspects the gang known as "400 Mawozo" of being responsible for the group's abduction.

READ NEXT: Gunmen Stormed a Hotel in Mexico and Kidnapped 38 Guests, Including 22 Foreigners

Kidnapping of 17 Missionaries in Haiti

The Christian Aid Ministries said the missionaries were on their way home from an orphanage they were building. The Ohio-based organization urged people to pray that the Haitian gang members would "come to repentance," CBS News reported.

The organization added that the mission's field director is working with the U.S. Embassy, and the field director's family stayed at the ministry's base while everyone visited the orphanage site.

A spokesperson from the U.S. government said they were aware of the reports on the kidnapping in Haiti. The spokesperson added that State Department prioritizes the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens abroad.

Authorities noted that Haitian gangs had demanded ransoms, with the amount being from a hundred dollars to more than a million.

In the first eight months of 2021, at least 328 kidnapping victims were reported to Haiti's National Police. In 2020, a total of 234 were reported.

A busload of passengers, schoolchildren, doctors, and police officers were among those that were kidnapped. In April, one gang kidnapped five priests and two nuns.

Haitian Gang

The Haitian gang, 400 Mawozo, reportedly controls the area where the missionaries were abducted in the suburbs of the country's capital, Port-au-Prince.

400 Mawozo were also blamed for the kidnapping of five priests and two nuns in April and the killing of Anderson Belony, a famous sculptor.

Newer gangs such as 400 Mawozo are reportedly raping women and recruiting children. They also allegedly forced the young ones in their neighborhood to beat up those abducted.

Churches have become a frequent target, with priests being kidnapped even mid-sermon, The New York Times reported.

Some recently started a petition to condemn the region's rising gang violence, blaming the 400 Mawozo gangs and calling on the police to take action.

Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne said the recent kidnapping conducted by the gang was done while they were in Ganthier.

For years, Americans weren't a target of kidnapping in Haiti, as gangs feared that there would be retaliation from the U.S. government. However, this marks a new brazen move for the 400 Mawozo.

The United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti said in its report that police turmoil, good insecurity, malnutrition, and the rise in gang violence all contribute to the exacerbating humanitarian situation.

On Friday, U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to expand the political mission in the poverty-stricken country.

READ MORE: Immigrant Children at Border Have High Chance of Staying in the U.S. 

This article is owned by Latin Post.

Written by: Mary Webber

WATCH: 17 Missionaries Kidnapped by Gang in Haiti - From CBS News