Civilians, police protest against gang violence in Haiti after murder of six officers

Streets were blocked with barricades the day after gangs, who control much of Haiti and regularly kidnap people for ransom, attacked police headquarters in Liancourt, a town in the north of Haiti, killing six officers

Agence France-Presse January 27, 2023 10:00:53 IST
Civilians, police protest against gang violence in Haiti after murder of six officers

A woman with her daughter walks past a barricade that was set up by members of the police as they protest bad police governance, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. AP

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Civilian protesters and police marched through Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday to demonstrate against a slew of killings of police officers by armed gangs in worsening violence in the Caribbean nation.

Streets were blocked with barricades the day after gangs, who control much of Haiti and regularly kidnap people for ransom, attacked police headquarters in Liancourt, a town in the north of Haiti, killing six officers.

The protesters tried to storm the offices of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and ran onto the runway of Toussaint Louverture International Airport, disrupting air traffic. Schools were shut down for the day.

On Wednesday, two officers were killed by attackers before four others were dragged outside the police station and “executed,” police commissioner Jean Bruce Myrtil told local radio.

US officials “condemn the gang violence that killed several Haitian National Police officers & call for calm amid ongoing protests,” the assistant US secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols, said on Twitter.

Fourteen police officers have been killed by armed gangs since the beginning of the year, according to the National Union of Haitian Police Officers.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas, has been gripped by a worsening political and economic crisis, triggered by the July 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise.

The UN recorded 1,359 kidnappings last year. More than 2,000 murders were recorded in 2022, up by a third from the year before.

According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s latest report on Haiti, the police force remains “overstretched, understaffed and under-resourced.”

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