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Police station set alight as violence grips troubled Haiti

Police in Haiti have been subject to repeated attacks since unrest broke out last week.
Police in Haiti have been subject to repeated attacks since unrest broke out last week. - Copyright AFP clarens SIFFROY
Police in Haiti have been subject to repeated attacks since unrest broke out last week. - Copyright AFP clarens SIFFROY

Haiti’s crisis threatened to deepen Thursday after another police station was set alight in a further attack targeting the troubled country’s law enforcement forces as criminal gangs extend their control.

The country has been gripped by violence since armed gangs, who already rule parts of the capital Port-au-Prince, launched a coordinated effort last week to oust Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

The Salomon police station in Bas-Peu-de-Chose — a neighborhood in the capital — was torched on Wednesday evening along with several police vehicles and motorbikes, according to Lionel Lazarre, the head of Haiti’s police union Synapoha. 

Officers escaped the headquarters before the attack, which Lazarre said criminals had been planning since the weekend.

It came after the UN Security Council met in New York on Wednesday to discuss the “critical” situation in Haiti, with the United States separately calling on incumbent Henry — who remains outside the country — to take steps to resolve the crisis.

Violent gangs plunged Haiti into chaos last week beginning with an attack on two prisons in Port-au-Prince, with the majority of their 3,800 inmates believed to have escaped. 

Further assaults have targeted the country’s airport and law enforcement. Synapoha said that 10 police stations had been destroyed, and at least 15,000 people are estimated to have fled the worst-hit parts of Port-au-Prince.

Influential gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier has warned of civil war and mass bloodshed unless Henry resigns.

In power since the 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise, Henry was due to leave office in February but instead agreed to a power-sharing deal with the opposition until new elections are held.

When the latest unrest broke out, Henry was in Kenya to negotiate a UN-backed multinational police mission to stabilize his country. He has since been unable to return to Haiti amid international calls for him to calm the situation.

United Nations rights chief Volker Turk said Wednesday the situation was “beyond untenable” with 1,193 people killed countrywide this year by gang violence.

The United States urged Henry to “expedite” a political transition and hold elections, but added it was not calling on him to resign — a key demand of Haiti’s gangs.

Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation, has been in turmoil for years, and Moise’s assassination plunged the country further into chaos.

No elections have taken place since 2016 and the presidency remains vacant.

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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