Haiti gang wars intensify as armed men set church on fire

Jul 27, 2022, 1:16 AM | Updated: 1:20 pm

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Heavy gunfire echoed throughout downtown Port-au-Prince on Wednesday as suspected gang members set a church on fire and tried to kill their opponents in a bid to gain control over more territory.

The intense fighting erupted just blocks from the government’s National Palace and Haiti’s National Penitentiary, where hungry prisoners tried to revolt because they thought gang members were coming to release them, Government Commissioner Jacques Lafontant told The Associated Press.

“There is no mutiny or invasion,” he said, adding that police are trying to stabilize the area. “With the weak equipment and lack of resources for them to fight back, that could take a couple of days.”

The once bustling downtown area of Port-au-Prince has become increasingly dangerous and deserted as violence escalates between a gang coalition known as G9 that is trying to seize control of the area from other gangs. In one social media post, men identifying themselves as G9 members filmed a man they supposedly killed amid the fighting and laid several firearms on his naked body.

The recent spike in violence in the downtown area has sent bullets flying into nearby residential areas and businesses, injuring at least one person. The State University of Haiti issued a statement on Wednesday announcing that it was forced to suspend classes: “In less than a week, multiple bullets have been recovered in the courtyard as well as in classrooms.”

The gunfire continued as firefighters put out a blaze that partially burned a transitional church built near the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption that was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.

The spike in violence comes as gangs grow more powerful following the July 7, 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Last month, one gang took control of a portion of Haiti’s Court of First Instance and on Tuesday, another gang set fire to a courthouse in Croix-des-Bouquets, which lies just northeast of Port-au-Prince. In addition, the United Nations said more than 470 people have been killed, injured or disappeared in less than a week during recent turf wars in the nearby Cite Soleil slum.

The U.N. has urged the international community to help Haiti’s National Police fight crime and violence even as the United States and other countries continue to train officers and provide resources to the roughly 12,800 police officers that serve a country of more than 11 million people.

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


Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

6 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

6 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

6 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

7 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

7 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

10 days ago

Haiti gang wars intensify as armed men set church on fire