Haiti's capital under gang attacks ahead of government transition

Haiti's capital under gang attacks ahead of government transition

Apr 22, 2024

Port-au-Prince [Haiti], April 22: Armed gangs launched fresh attacks on parts of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince ahead of the installation of a transitional council set to usher in a new government, local media said on Sunday, reporting arson and heavy gunfire in the city centre.
The Lower Delmas area is turning into "a battlefield between police and armed gangs," Radio Tele Galaxie said on X, saying loud blasts were heard as far as the neighborhood's city hall, as well as automatic gunfire near the National Palace.
Two voice recordings circulated on social media which users attributed to gang leader Jimmy "Barbeque" Cherizier apparently ordering his soldiers to burn houses down in Lower Delmas, an impoverished part of the capital where he grew up.
"Continue burning the houses. Make everybody leave," a man says in the first audio recording. In another, he says he has sent jugs of gasoline: "No need to know which house. Burn every house you find. Set the fire," he says.
Reuters was unable to verify the recording, but a resident from the area told Reuters she had seen houses on fire.
The State University of Haiti's medical facility was also looted by gangs overnight, Radio RFM reported, while attacks were also reported in the hillside Petion-Ville suburb.
This comes as the country prepares for the installation of a nine-member council to take over from Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who pledged to step down on March 11 while stranded outside the country and under pressure from the United States.
Haiti's gangs, many of which have grouped together under an alliance known as "Viv Ansanm" (Living Together), have said their siege on the capital is a battle to oust Henry, but since his announcements attacks on the capital have increased.
Rights groups estimate some 90% of the capital is now under gang control.
Henry had traveled abroad at the end of February to secure Kenya's leadership of a planned security support force he requested in 2022.
Though Kenya offered to lead the force it ran into local legal issues prompting Henry to sign a reciprocal security deal with the East African nation.
Source: Fijian Broadcasting Corporation