At Least Seven Dead After Gang Attacks Church-Led Protest in Haiti
Gang Members Fire Machine Guns at Peaceful Marchers
At least seven people were killed and many more injured or kidnapped when a gang opened fire on a church-led protest against gang violence in a suburb of Haiti’s capital on Saturday, local human rights groups said.
Hundreds of people, led by a Christian church leader, marched in Canaan, a northern suburb of Port-au-Prince, to demand peace and security when a local gang attacked them with machine guns, Marie Yolène Gilles, director of human rights group Fondasyon Je Klere, said.
The death toll is likely higher, given the number of parishioners at the march, said Gédéon Jean, director of the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights. “There is a double responsibility to be established: that of the pastor who took these innocent people to the butchery, and especially that of the judicial and police authorities who had not prevented this,” Jean said.
Jean added that as many as 10 people were believed to have been kidnapped by the gang, which is known for extorting ransom from its victims.
Videos shared on social media show the marchers wearing yellow shirts associated with the religious group. Some videos show bloody bodies on the ground with the same shirts. Haitian National Police is yet to comment on the situation.
Haiti Faces Crisis of Crime and Unrest
The shooting is the latest incident of violence in Haiti, which has been gripped by waves of crime and unrest since the assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse in 2021. His successor, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, has struggled to contain the violence, which is also a major obstacle to holding long-delayed elections in the country.
According to United Nations figures, more than 1,000 people were taken hostage for ransom in the first six months of the year. Over the past two years, warring gangs in Port-au-Prince have terrorized the country’s vital port city with rape, torture, and killing as they compete for territorial control.
Thousands of Haitians have fled their homes, seeking refuge in makeshift camps across the sprawling capital. A vigilante movement known as “Bwa Kale” struck back brutally earlier this year, stoning and burning suspected gang members in the street – prompting United Nations Special Representative María Isabel Salvador to warn in a July report that the movement had triggered “a new and alarming cycle of violence.”
Salvador said that hundreds of alleged gang members had been killed by vigilantes across the country. The conflict in the capital has also disrupted the rest of the nation’s supply lines, causing the price of food and energy to soar in other parts of Haiti.
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