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Armed gangs attack Haiti’s wealthiest enclaves, leaving bodies on the streets

A man walks past the body of a person who was among a dozen killed in the street by gang members, in Pétion-Ville, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Clarens Siffroy/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

The violence engulfing Haiti’s capital that has led to daily gun battles between police and gangs extended into the hills on Monday, as Haitians in some of Port-au-Prince’s wealthiest enclaves woke up to bursts of heavy gunfire and bodies riddled with bullets on their streets.

Scores of heavily armed men were spotted in the neighborhoods of Laboule and Thomasin, which are part of the Pétion-Ville district of metropolitan Port-au-Prince. Homes were ransacked and at least one person, a bodyguard, was shot. The guard was traveling to work on the back of motorcycle when he was shot, said his boss Anthony Bennett.

After an ambulance could not get through a blocked road, Bennett said he had to go personally in his car to pick up the bodyguard, “otherwise he would have died.”

Residents in Pétion-Ville told a Miami Herald correspondent that there were at least 24 dead bodies on the streets, victims of gunshots. The videographer counted at least nine corpses with bullet holes along PanAmerican Avenue in Pétion-Ville, not far from a gas station. The attacks started around midnight on Saturday and continued through Monday morning.

Images shared online showed several men with guns and backpacks standing both inside and outside the yard of the private residence of a judge who serves on Haiti’s Court of Auditors.

As the attacks unfolded, residents reported hiding and barricading themselves inside their homes. In some cases, armed men successfully ransacked some of the homes.

The new assaults have spread a wave of panic in the capital, where until now residents in Pétion-Ville freely circulated as armed groups targeted key government facilities at the bottom of the mountain, including the airports and seaports.

On Monday, Haitians and an international coalition were still awaiting the names of those who would make up a transitional presidential council to run the country and help Haiti forge a way out of the crisis.

The ongoing negotiations to name the council began a week ago but have been bogged down by infighting among some of the groups. Another complication: People being considered for the presidential panel are worried about their personal safety and that of their families, given the escalating attacks against homes, businesses and government facilities.

In a media statement Monday, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Haiti refuted claims that it had named a representative to the presidential panel. Following the decision by the political party Petiti Desalin not to participate in the naming of a presidential council, some of those involved in the discussions suggested the party’s voting seat be given to the religious community. After word began circulating that the Catholic Church had sent a representative, however, the bishops’ conference said they had “not mandated anyone to represent the Catholic Church within the Presidential Council or any government structure,” the statement shared with the Miami Herald said.

“We nevertheless hope that the current talks will result in a true inclusive and lasting patriotic agreement in the interest of all the Haitian people, who so aspire to peace and well-being,” the statement added.


© 2024 Miami Herald

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