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Soldiers patrol in a troubled area of Kingston, Jamaica, where drug lords hold sway. Getty

Two American missionaries have been found dead in a rural area of the island of Jamaica that has long struggled with violent crime. The men's battered bodies were found hidden in bushes in separate areas of the same parish in Port Maria.

The men were identified as Randy Hentzel, 49, and Harold Nichols, 53. Both men lived with their families in Jamaica and worked for a Pennsylvania-based religious organisation called Teams for Medical Missions. Hentzel had five children. They helped local people build homes and preached their religion.

"We do not know who would do this or what their motivation was. These men greatly loved the people of Jamaica and were greatly loved in return," said John Heater, executive director of Teams for Medical Missions.

Hentzel was a member of the First Family Church in Ankeny, Iowa, which urged people in a statement to pray during "this time of shocking news and great loss," and to step up to aid the families of the dead men.

"We as a body need to weep with them and wrap our arms around them," said the statement on the church's web site

No arrests have been made, and police are still seeking a motive. The men were apparently attacked as they drove together on a motorcycle to check the foundation of a house they were building, reported WHO TV.

Jamaica, with a population of some 2.7 million, had at least 1,192 slayings in 2015, a 20% increase over the previous year. It consistently ranks among the most violent countries in the world.