Bodies found in Haiti capital as gang violence persists

People look at the body of a dead man as rival gangs are vying for control of turf while the state remains largely absent. (Photo/Reuters)

Panic set in around downtown Port-au-Prince as wild shooting filled the streets of Haiti's capital, with heavy gunfire approaching the national palace.

The Reuters news agency saw civilians rush to escape gunfire in the capital on Monday, where gangs are vying for control of turf, while the state remains largely absent, three weeks after Ariel Henry announced his resignation as prime minister with no successors in place.

Four more people were found dead on Monday in the capital's relatively upscale Petion-Ville suburb, which gangs have threatened.

Meanwhile, gunmen seized an armoured vehicle from palace guards in the centre of the city.

At least one other person was shot dead amid fighting in the capital's Delmas district.

Media also reported a large industrial park had been set on fire three days before.

Haiti has been facing a worsening conflict with alliances of gangs vying for control of parts of the capital and attacks on the airport and main port blocking access to key goods.

Henry announced his resignation on March 11, pending the installation of a presidential council and interim replacement, but threats, factional infighting and resignations have hampered the process.

Though the council, proposed by regional leaders meeting in Jamaica, was set to be formalised within two days of his announcement, this has yet to take place, prompting calls for an alternate method of transition.

Jamaica's military reported over the weekend that troops had arrived from the Bahamas and Belize to participate in a training exercise known as Trogon Shield with Canada, which had earlier said its soldiers would, over the course of a month, train some 330 Caribbean troops in preparation for deployment to Haiti.

Evacuations continue

The new US ambassador to Haiti, Dennis Hankins, arrived in the country on Monday as the United States and other nations continue evacuating their citizens and bolstering their borders against migrants and refugees.

Mexico said it evacuated 34 of its nationals from Haiti aboard a military ship.

Seven minors and four diplomatic officials were among the evacuees, who were residents of Haiti, Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena said at a news conference.

"A very special operation was required in which the naval vessel sailed to waters near Haiti and rescued these 34 compatriots, who are already on their way back," she said.

The government showed images of the Mexicans boarding a helicopter to be flown to the ship, due to the closure of Port-au-Prince airport.

Canada also announced the expansion of its emergency programme to get vulnerable citizens out of Haiti amidst ongoing volatility.

Henry called in 2022 for an international security force to bolster Haiti's under-gunned police force, but despite the United Nations ratifying the force six months ago, progress has been sluggish.

Over 1,500 people were killed in the first three months of 2024, and around 60 were lynched by vigilante groups operating where police presence is lacking, according to a UN report last week.

The report warned of the ongoing recruitment of children into gangs and called for more efforts to stop the flow of firearms, largely from the United States, into the Caribbean country.


Source: TRT