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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

U.S. calls for rapid deployment to Haiti after missionaries killed

A police tank patrols the area where armed gangs have spread terror, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on May 24, 2024. A U.S. couple were among three missionaries shot and killed by a gang outside a church in the Haitian capital, which has endured months of extreme violence, with deadly assaults on hospitals, prisons and government buildings. (Clarens Siffroy/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)  (Clarens Siffroy/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Jim Wyss Bloomberg News

The murder of two U.S. missionaries in Haiti this week by powerful gangs underscores the urgent need to deploy an international security force to the troubled Caribbean nation, the U.S. Department of State said.

Natalie and Davy Lloyd, a married missionary couple, were ambushed and killed Thursday night along with a third person as they left church.

“Unfortunately, this serves as a reminder that the security situation in Haiti cannot wait – too many innocent lives are being lost,” U.S. Department of State spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement released late Friday.

Haiti’s turmoil has escalated following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021, and gangs now control large parts of the capital. More than half the population are going hungry and more than 300,000 people have been forced from their homes due to violence. Last year, the United Nations authorized a Kenyan-led security force to intervene, but its deployment has faced delays due to logistical and financial challenges.

Miller said the White House was working with Congress to expedite that force “to protect civilians, restore the rule of law, and pave the way to democratic governance.”

Natalie and Davy Lloyd were full-time missionaries with Missions in Haiti Inc., a faith-based group founded by Davy Lloyd’s parents that’s worked in the country since 2000. Natalie is the daughter of Missouri state Rep. Ben Baker.

“We have to obtain a waiver that will allow their bodies to be transported without being fully embalmed due to the lack of facilities that provide that service in Haiti,” Baker posted on his Facebook page. “After that, we have to find an airline that will be willing to do the transport. Prayers that this will all go smoothly.”

The State Department said the embassy in Port-au-Prince is providing assistance.

On its Facebook page, Missions in Haiti said the couple were ambushed by gang members traveling in three trucks. After the group ransacked the mission, a firefight broke out and the Lloyds and a person identified only as Jude holed up in a house and tried to call for help. An official with Missions in Haiti said they tried to get the police to evacuate them and also attempted to negotiate with the gangs to stand down.

“Davy and Natalie and Jude were shot and killed by the gang about 9 o’clock this evening,” the group wrote in its final post Friday. “We all are devastated.”