updated 2/5/2007 6:02:55 PM ET 2007-02-05T23:02:55

Armed kidnappers seized an American missionary as he left his church near Haiti’s capital and have demanded a ransom for his release, U.N. police said Monday.

Nathan Jean-Bieubonne, a U.S. citizen of Haitian descent, was snatched Sunday afternoon as he and three others drove home from church in Croix-de-Bouquets, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, U.N. police spokesman Fred Blaise said.

The kidnappers surrounded Jean-Bieubonne’s all-terrain vehicle and forced him out at gunpoint while leaving the other three passengers, Blaise said.

“The men who kidnapped him are in touch with the family to demand the ransom,” Blaise said, declining to discuss the amount.

Blaise said a U.N. anti-kidnapping task force was working with Haitian police to recover Jean-Bieubonne, whose hometown in the U.S. and church denomination were not immediately available.

Kidnappings for ransom surged in the impoverished Caribbean nation last year but have fallen in recent weeks as a 9,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force and Haitian police step up patrols around the capital.

Foreign missionaries, who usually travel with less security than diplomats and businesspeople, have increasingly become targets.

Most kidnappings are blamed on armed gangs that flourished in the aftermath of a February 2004 revolt that toppled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected leader. Corrupt police officers have also been implicated.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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