Haiti gangs demand PM resignation after latest airport attack

Pedestrians was past a soldier guarding the area of the international airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, March 4, 2024.
Pedestrians was past a soldier guarding the area of the international airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, March 4, 2024. Copyright Associated Press
By Euronews with AP
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

Gangs in Haiti attempted to seize control of country's main airport on Monday, after mass escapes from two major prisons over the weekend.

ADVERTISEMENT

Heavily armed gangs tried to seize control of Haiti’s main international airport on Monday, exchanging gunfire with police and soldiers in the latest attack on key government sites. 

It comes as Haiti is currently experiencing an explosion of violence. 

The Toussaint Louverture International Airport was closed when the attack occurred, with no planes operating and no passengers on site.

The attack was the biggest in Haiti's history on an airport.

It occurred just hours after authorities in Haiti ordered a nighttime curfew after armed gang members overran the two biggest prisons and freed thousands of inmates over the weekend.

All but 98 of the 3,798 inmates being held at the National Penitentiary escaped. Meanwhile, at the Croix-des-Bouquets prison, 1,033 escaped.

A second Port-au-Prince prison containing around 1,400 inmates also was overrun.

In response, the government ordered a 72-hour state of emergency. The government said it would try to track down the escaped inmates, with some accused of murder, kidnappings and other crimes.

Gangs already are estimated to control up to 80% of Port-au-Prince, the capital. They are increasingly coordinating their actions and choosing once unthinkable targets like the Central Bank.

Haiti’s National Police has roughly 9,000 officers to provide security for more than 11 million people, according to the UN. They are routinely overwhelmed and outgunned.

At least nine people had been killed since Thursday — four of them police officers — as gangs stepped up coordinated attacks on state institutions in Port-au-Prince, including the international airport and national soccer stadium.

Authorities are seriously concerned about the safety of judges, prosecutors, victims, attorneys and others following the mass prison escapes.

Following the raid at the penitentiary, three bodies with gunshot wounds lay at the prison entrance on Sunday.

In another neighbourhood, the bloodied corpses of two men with their hands tied behind their backs lay face down as residents walked past roadblocks set up with burning tires.

The US Embassy has halted all official travel to the country. On Sunday night, it urged all American citizens to depart as soon as possible.

The Biden administration, which has refused to commit troops to any multinational force for Haiti while offering money and logistical support, said it was monitoring the rapidly deteriorating security situation with grave concern.

Calls for PM to resign

The surge in attacks follows violent protests that turned deadlier in recent days as the prime minister went to Kenya seeking to move ahead on the proposed UN-backed security mission to be led by that East African country.

Henry took over as prime minister following Moise's assassination and has postponed plans to hold parliamentary and presidential elections, which haven’t happened in almost a decade.

ADVERTISEMENT

Jimmy Chérizier, a former elite police officer known as "Barbecue" who now runs a gang federation, has claimed responsibility for the surge in attacks. He said the goal is to capture Haiti’s police chief and government ministers and prevent Henry’s return.

The prime minister has shrugged off calls for him to resign and didn’t comment when asked if he felt it was safe to come home.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Six nuns kidnapped by armed group in Haiti released unharmed

Four dead and dozens injured after 4.9 magnitude quake strikes southern Haiti

Haiti prosecutor seeks to charge PM in killing, is replaced