Gang Violence Flares Up in Haiti as Prime Minister Visits Kenya

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A wave of panic swept through downtown Port-au-Prince on Thursday, with an outburst of violence marked by heavy gunfire and improvised barricades. A gang leader took responsibility saying it was a demonstration against the authorities.  

The violent events took place on the same day Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry arrived in Kenya for talks on the deployment of a multinational security mission in the country backed by the United Nations. 

By midday, most institutions and businesses in the city had closed and thousands of people commuted home in public transit or walked to seek shelter, according to local witnesses.  

Haitian airline Sunrise Airways halted flights, a company spokesperson said, adding shootouts near the capital’s airport had put people in danger.  

Special police units were deployed throughout the city to respond to the violent events, a police spokesperson told a local radio station.  

“We have chosen to take our destiny in our own hands. The battle we are waging will not only topple the Ariel [Henry] government. It is a battle that will change the whole system,” said former cop and gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, also known as Barbecue, in a video shared on social media. 

Henry, who came to power after the assassination of the country’s last president in 2021, had pledged to step down by early February, but later said security must first be re-established in order to ensure free and fair elections. 

Gang violence has flared in Haiti since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. The U.N. estimates the conflict killed close to 5,000 people last year and has driven some 300,000 from their homes. 

Kenya has pledged to send 1,000 troops and Benin another 2,000 to help national police fight armed gangs. 

your ad here

leave a reply: