FBI Sent to Haiti to Investigate American Missionary's Kidnapping

Two FBI hostage negotiators were en route to Haiti on Tuesday to help secure the release of a kidnapped American missionary, an official said.

FBI special agent Judy Orihuela told The Associated Press that the family of 58-year-old Nathan Jean-Bieubonne requested help in negotiating with his captors.

Jean-Bieubonne, a U.S. citizen of Haitian descent, was driving home Sunday from Betheal Church with three companions when gunmen surrounded the pastor's all-terrain vehicle and forced him out at gunpoint in a suburb of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The captors later contacted Jean-Bieubonne's family and demanded a ransom for his release. Authorities have declined to say how much they are seeking.

U.N. police spokesman Fred Blaise said Jean-Bieubonne apparently has not been hurt and that his family described him as being "in good spirits."

The FBI negotiators were expected to arrive in the Caribbean country on Tuesday, Orihuela said from Miami. She added it is standard procedure for FBI negotiators to assist in cases of U.S. citizens who are kidnapped overseas.

A U.N. anti-kidnapping force and Haitian police were also working to free Jean-Bieubonne, whose church denomination and hometown in the United States have not been made public.

Kidnappings for ransom are one of the biggest security threats in Haiti, which is struggling to recover from a 2004 revolt that toppled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and touched off a bloody crime wave blamed mostly on street gangs.

Kidnappers have increasingly targeted foreign missionaries, many of whom travel with little security and work in poorer areas where police presence is thin.

U.N. troops and Haitian police have stepped up patrols in the capital, prompting kidnappers to look for victims in outlying suburbs.