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39 U.S. missionaries robbed in Jamaica

/ Source: The Associated Press

A U.S. Christian group said Tuesday it will find a new location for its goodwill trips to Jamaica after 39 young missionaries were robbed at gunpoint in the crime-prone capital of Kingston.

The American missionaries from the Georgia-based Adventures in Missions were robbed Monday by two gunmen who broke into a Salvation Army school for the blind where they were volunteering, said school official Major Ward Matthews.

"They're just glad that no one pulled the trigger," Matthews told The Associated Press.

The missionaries in their teens and early 20s were from Ellensburg, Wash.; Chillicothe, Ohio, and Hope Mills, N.C. They arrived June 23 and were robbed of money and cell phones on their last day at the Kingston school, Matthews said.

The next batch of young missionaries arrives in mid-July but will not work with the Salvation Army school as planned, said Clint Bokelman, a director with Adventures in Missions.

"We will wait for things to cool down in Kingston," he said, adding the non-denominational organization will eventually resend missionaries to the school.

Jamaica is struggling with a rise in violence, and authorities have been criticized for the more than 700 killings reported so far this year.

Jamaica's crime mostly afflicts impoverished slums in and around the capital of Kingston, far from the tourist resorts on the north and west coasts.