Haitian police spokesman says new gang attacks overwhelmed officers: ‘The city center was at war’

Mar2,2024



Port-au-Prince: haitian police were overwhelmed by the coordinated series violent Attacks by gang members across the capital including four officials were killed, a national police spokesman said on Friday.
Thursday's attacks in Port-au-Prince were led by gunmen who opened fire on targets including Haiti's international airport and took over two police stations, leaving dozens of communities in fear as schools and businesses closed. People ran away.
“The situation yesterday was terrible,” spokesman Gary Desrosiers said in an interview with Radio Caribes. “The city ​​center Was at war.”
Jimmy Charizier, a former elite police officer known as Barbecue who now runs G9 and a gang consortium known as Family & Allies, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
He said its purpose was to capture Haiti's police chief and government ministers and to prevent the return of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was in Kenya to push for a U.N.-backed deployment of police from the East African nation to fight gangs in Haiti. Were.
Neither the police chief nor government ministers were injured or captured during Thursday's attacks.
By Friday morning, much of Port-au-Prince remained peaceful as people fearfully resumed their daily routines. The main international airport reopened, but by Friday afternoon, the US Embassy reported heavy gunfire near the airport and said it was temporarily halting all official travel to it.
Meanwhile, the capital city remained largely deserted as most schools and businesses remained closed.
Desrosiers said the young officers stood up and fought “to guarantee the safety of the population”, adding that the officers could not reach the station in time to thwart the attack.
He said police lacked the logistics and equipment to properly fight gangs on Thursday, and that roadblocks remained in place in dozens of communities on Friday, preventing officers from responding to attacks.
“Despite everything we had to deal with, the will was there,” Desrosiers said.
Haiti's national police has about 9,000 officers on duty at any one time in the country of more than 11 million people, according to the United Nations. Authorities are routinely overwhelmed and defeated by powerful gangs that control up to 80% of Port-au-Prince.
“The police need more equipment to be able to respond to the situation,” Desrosiers said.
The Prime Minister, Henry, has not commented publicly on the situation and when asked if he felt it was safe to return to Haiti from Kenya, he simply shrugged.
He signed reciprocity agreements on Friday with Kenyan President William Ruto to try and save plans to deploy Kenyan police to Haiti. Kenya's High Court ruled in January that the deployment was unconstitutional because the original deal lacked mutual agreement between the two countries.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the latest increase in violence and the worsening situation in Haiti underscores why the UN wants member states to act quickly to support and deploy a multinational protection force.
“We've been talking for months about how civilians in Haiti and Port-au-Prince are basically caught up in gang violence,” he told reporters at UN headquarters in New York. “Schools are closed, hospitals are not functioning, people are facing problems on a daily basis.”
Dujarric said the mission urgently needs more support, both financially and for its security component.



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