Gunmen in Haiti have killed an Italian businessman and kidnapped his wife amid a spate of violence in the impoverished Caribbean nation, the Italian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

CountryWatch: Haiti

A group of armed men on Monday entered the couple's villa in the capital, Port-au-Prince, shooting 67-year-old Guido Vitiello and leaving him tied to a chair before abducting his wife Gigliola Martino, the ministry said. Vitiello later died of his wounds in a hospital.

Investigators believe Martino, 65, was kidnapped for ransom and the Italian ambassador in the neighboring Dominican Republic has been dispatched to Port-au-Prince to assist the family and keep contacts with local authorities, the ministry said.

Martino was also briefly kidnapped last year and released unharmed. She has been living in Haiti for about 30 years with her husband and two children.

Haiti experienced relative calm after President Rene Preval's February election. Since May, however, dozens of foreigners and Haitians have been kidnapped and gang fighting has forced hundreds to flee their homes in the capital.