Gang war in Haitian capital leaves at least 3 police dead

Jan 20, 2023, 6:43 PM | Updated: Jan 21, 2023, 11:51 am

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — One of Haiti’s gangs stormed a key part of the capital, Port-Au-Prince, and battled with police throughout the day, leaving at least three officers dead.

The violence Friday was the latest episode of lawlessness that has torn through the Caribbean nation.

A police patrol was ambushed by gang gunmen Friday morning, Lionel Lazarre, head of the National Union for Haitian Police, said Saturday. The officers called for backup but were angered because reinforcements never arrived, he said.

At least three officers died in the violence, one was missing and one was treated at a hospital for bullet wounds, police confirmed late Friday.

Fighting continued throughout Friday and tensions remained high Saturday.

The United Nations estimates 60% of Haiti’s capital is controlled by gangs, but many residents say gang warfare has expanded past the fringes and into most of the city.

The country has struggled with endemic violence for years, but it came to a head after the 2021 killing of former President Jovenel Moïse threw the country into lawlessness.

Powerful gangs have taken advantage of the political chaos and discontent with the current government led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry to further consolidate their control.

The government has failed to control the violence, forcing many to flee their homes and spurring a rise in gang rapes and killings.

Observers expect the bloodshed to get worse, especially after the country’s final 10 elected officers ended their Senate terms in early January, leaving the parliament and presidency unfilled because of Haiti’s failure to hold elections. Critics say that has turned Haiti into a “de-facto dictatorship.”

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Gang war in Haitian capital leaves at least 3 police dead