Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Haiti PM condemns killing of police officers in gang ambush


PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti’s new prime minister on Monday condemned the gang killings of three police officers on a patrol in a part of the capital controlled by gang leader Jimmy “Barbeque” Cherizier.

A group of armed men working under Cherizier ambushed a patrol from the police’s anti-gang unit in the Delmas 18 neighborhood on Sunday and set it on fire, police in the Caribbean country said.

Two officers were killed on site and two were evacuated by reinforcements – though one of them later died at the hospital.

Prime Minister Garry Conille promised state aid for the victims’ families. Conille was sworn in this month and has yet to install his cabinet after taking power nearly three months after his predecessor Ariel Henry tendered his resignation.

“This barbaric act is a direct attack on security and on stability of the nation,” Conille said in a video address. “I send heartfelt condolences to the family of these officers who are gone along with their colleagues and friends.”

He spoke after being briefly hospitalized on Saturday for what his office called “a slight illness.”

Police union SYNAPOHA, however, said words were not enough and demanded the victim’s bodies be returned.

Unverified videos on social media apparently filmed by gang members appear to show footage of the charred truck and captured firearms.

Gang leader Cherizier later shared a video on social media in which he said police officers had gone rogue and come “to kill people in lower Delmas.” He also challenged police to recover the seized firearms if they can.

Kenyan President William Ruto on Sunday said that a long-awaited deployment of Kenyan police officers set to lead a U.N.-sanctioned international force to support Haitian police should arrive in one or two weeks, African news outlets reported.

It remains unclear when the rest of the force – with troops from Benin, Chad, Bangladesh and the Caribbean – would land. SYNAPOHA warned at the start of this year of a rapidly shrinking and under-resourced police body.

The international force was initially requested by Haiti’s former government in 2022 but has faced extended delays. Gangs have since grown their control over the capital, pushing hundreds of thousands from their homes and millions into hunger.

(Reporting by Ralph Tedy Erol, Harold Isaac and Sarah Morland; Editing by Josie Kao)



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