Violence rages in Haiti for second day

Africa Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry speaks about ties between Kenya and Haiti in Nairobi March 1, 2024.  By SIMON MAINA AFP
MAR 2, 2024 LISTEN
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry speaks about ties between Kenya and Haiti in Nairobi March 1, 2024. By SIMON MAINA (AFP)

Gangs aiming to oust Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry wreaked havoc in the capital Port-au-Prince Friday, as gun attacks near the city's international airport and a prison marked a second day of extreme violence.

At least four police officers were killed Thursday and dozens have been wounded since the latest spate of brutality began, with Henry meanwhile in Kenya mustering support for a UN-backed international police deployment.

Armed gangs have taken over entire swaths of the country in recent years, unleashing extreme violence that has left the Haitian economy and public health system in tatters.

The latest attacks are part of a coordinated effort by gangs, united under the label "Vivre Ensemble" ("Living Together").

Powerful gang leader Jimmy Cherisier, known by the nickname Barbecue, said in a video posted on social media before the violence began that the armed groups were acting in concert "to get Prime Minister Ariel Henry to step down."

Henry on Friday was in Nairobi signing a "reciprocal" agreement with Kenya which will deploy police to lead a UN-backed law and order mission to the troubled Caribbean nation.

Back in Haiti, approximately 10 police officers protested in front of management offices Friday, demanding recovery of the bodies of their four slain colleagues.

Streets across Port-au-Prince meanwhile were blocked by barricades of burning ties.

The State University Hospital of Haiti, one of the largest public hospitals in the capital, received at least 25 wounded people Thursday, according to a source.

At two facilities run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the Tabarre and Cite Soleil districts the number of patients remained the same as normal -- approximately 15 per day.

But "the injured come from everywhere now. There are no more quiet areas," Mumuza Muhindo, the NGO's head of mission, told AFP.

"It's becoming difficult for our staff to get into our centers," he said.

He also said that the supply of medicine could become precarious, with containers stuck at customs.

"If the situation doesn't change, it will be complicated to continue to maintain our activities," he said.

At Toussaint-Louverture International Airport flights to the United States and Dominican Republic resumed Friday, a source close to the airlines told AFP.