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Dominican Bus Carrying 17 Passengers Hijacked In Haiti

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A Dominican bus carrying 17 passengers was hijacked shortly after crossing the border with Haiti last Sunday. The bus was traveling on the Santo Domingo – Port au Prince route when the hijacking occurred. At least 8 foreign nationals were on board during the hijacking, most of them Turkish. The Dominican Republic and Haiti share a nearly 250-mile-long border, and bordering regions are more prone to criminal activity including armed violence and pickpocketing. There have been several high-profile kidnappings in recent months in that area.

Dominican Bus

The bus, operated by the Metro Tourism Services company, was hijacked last Sunday after crossing the border to Haiti after departing from Santo Domingo. The incident is said to have taken place near the Haitian capital, Port au Prince. There are several nationalities among the victims, with at least eight Turkish citizens on board. There were also Dominican and Haitian passengers on board, including most of the crew members. According to reports, no Americans were traveling on the bus.  

Caribbean bus

According to reports from the Turkish consulate, five of the Turkish passengers are men and three are women. They are aged between 20 and 26, work as educational volunteers, and visit the country frequently. Haiti, being a low-income country, relies heavily on foreign aid workers who perform various humanitarian tasks including distributing food and other supplies. North American missionaries are also known to visit the country.

Port Au prince

The hijacking was carried out by a Haitian organized crime group known as 400 Mawozo. The group is widely feared amongst the native population due to its harsh tactics and brutal violence. There has been an uptick in the number of similar hijackings lately in the capital region, including taking people hostage. More serious crimes such as sexual violence and murders have also been reported. Last year, 400 Mawozo captured 16 American and two Canadian missionaries who were held hostage for two months.

Healthcare workers

On April 28 Carlos Guillen Tatis, a Dominican diplomat, was taken hostage before being released four days after. The scandal attracted widespread media attention in the Dominican Republic and was a cruel reminder of the worrying security situation that many Dominicans face in neighboring Haiti. 

Dominican Republic Haiti

Authorities are aware of the situation and are actively monitoring the safety of the passengers. The Dominican ambassador to Haiti as well as the foreign minister are working to ensure the successful repatriation of the occupants.  “The company is taking all necessary measures to safely recover the bus and protect the lives of the passengers. The authorities have been notified of the situation and are working on the case”, official sources stated. 

Border

Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a long border that divides the island in two. Earlier this year authorities were put on high alert due to a newly discovered and highly contagious skin disease first detected in Haiti. The 400 Mawozo group is involved in territorial disputes with other gangs in the area. Last Friday, the United Nations reported that up to 75 people lost their lives in gang-related fights in the area.

U.S Department Of State Warns Against Travel To Haiti

Despite having tropical beaches and warm weather, Haiti faces significant safety issues that make travel to the country highly risky. The U.S Department of State advises U.S citizens against traveling to Haiti. Visitors are likely to encounter crime, even in daylight, and kidnappings may occur. The country is also prone to natural disasters including earthquakes and tropical storms, which may leave tourists stranded. While the country houses several important ports such as Labadee, traveling by cruise is also not advisable until the security situation improves. 

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