Gangs Attack Police Stations in Haiti

A CHILD watches from an opening in a security gate as residents flee their homes due to gang violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Saturday, March 9, 2024. / AP
A CHILD watches from an opening in a security gate as residents flee their homes due to gang violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Saturday, March 9, 2024. / APOdelyn Joseph

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Police and palace guards worked Saturday, March 9, 2024, to retake some streets in Haiti’s capital after gangs launched massive attacks on at least three police stations.

Guards from the National Palace accompanied by an armored truck tried to set up a security perimeter around one of the three downtown stations after police fought off an attack by gangs late Friday, March 8.

Sporadic gunfire continued Saturday, and one woman writhed in pain on the sidewalk in downtown Port-au-Prince with a gunshot wound after a stray bullet hit her in the leg.

The unrelenting gang attacks have paralyzed the country for more than a week and left it with dwindling supplies of basic goods.

Haitian officials extended a state of emergency and nightly curfew on Thursday , March 7,as gangs continued to attack key state institutions.

Caribbean leaders issued a call late Friday for an emergency meeting Monday, March 11, in Jamaica on what they called Haiti’s “dire” situation. They have invited the United States, France, Canada, the United Nations and Brazil to the meeting.

Members of the Caricom regional trade bloc have been trying for months to get political actors in Haiti to agree to form an umbrella transitional unity government.

But average Haitians, many of whom have been forced from their homes by the bloody street fighting, can’t wait. The problem for police in securing government buildings is that many Haitians have streamed into them, seeking refuge.

“We are the ones who pay taxes, and we need to have shelter,” said one woman, who did not give her name for safety reasons.

Another Port-au-Prince resident, who also did not give his name, described the massive attacks Friday.

“They (the gangs) came with big guns. We have no guns and we cannot defend ourselves. All of us, the children are suffering,” said the man.

So far, efforts to broker a solution have been unsuccessful. Caricom, the 15-nation Caribbean bloc, said in a statement late Friday that “the situation on the ground remains dire.”

The Caricom statement said that while regional leaders remain deeply engaged in trying to bring opposition parties and civil society groups together to form a unity government, “the stakeholders are not yet where they need to be.”

“We are acutely aware of the urgent need for consensus to be reached,” according to the statement. “We have impressed on the respective parties that time is not on their side in agreeing to the way forward. From our reports, the situation on the ground remains dire and is of serious concern to us.”

“It is vital that this engagement be at as high a level as possible to send a clear message of unity between Caricom and the international community as we work together to provide the critical support to the Haitian people at this time of crisis for them,” said the statement. / AP


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