Bodies pile up as gangs rampage through Haiti's capital

A person lifts a sheet to look at the identity of a body lying on the ground after an overnight shooting in the Petion Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 18/3/24.
A person lifts a sheet to look at the identity of a body lying on the ground after an overnight shooting in the Petion Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 18/3/24. Copyright Odelyn Joseph/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Odelyn Joseph/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Gang violence has engulfed the Caribbean country in recent weeks.

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Armed gangs rampaged through two affluent neighbourhoods in Haiti’s capital on Monday, leaving dozens of people dead.

Gunmen looted homes in Laboule and Thomassin before sunrise, forcing residents to flee as some called radio stations pleading for police. 

Port-au-Price has been gripped by gang violence since the end of February. 

A photographer with AP, a US news agency, documented at least 12 bodies strewn on the streets of Pétionville, located just below Laboule and Thomassin, which had largely remained unscathed by the outbreak of violence.

“Abuse! This is abuse!” cried out one Haitian man who had gathered around the victims with others. “People of Haiti! Wake up!” 

An ambulance collected the all-male bodies. 

A child stands amid people who were detained for deportation to Haiti inside a police truck on a border bridge that connects Dajabon, Dominican Republic with Haiti, 18/03/24.
A child stands amid people who were detained for deportation to Haiti inside a police truck on a border bridge that connects Dajabon, Dominican Republic with Haiti, 18/03/24.Ricardo Hernandez/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

“We woke up this morning to find bodies in the street in our community of Pétionville,” said Douce Titi, who works at the mayor's office. “Ours is not that kind of community. We will start working to remove those bodies before the children start walking by to go to school and the vendors start to arrive.”

The most recent attacks raised concerns that gang violence will continue, despite the recent announcement by Prime Minister Ariel Henry that he would resign once a transitional presidential council is created. 

Gangs have long opposed Henry, saying he was never elected by the people as they blame him for deepening poverty. 

Critics of gangs accuse them of trying to seize power for themselves or for unidentified Haitian politicians.

On Monday, Haiti’s power company announced that four substations in the capital and elsewhere “were destroyed and rendered completely dysfunctional.” 

This meant swaths of Port-au-Prince were without power. 

The company said criminals seized important documents, cables, inverters, batteries and other items.

Caribbean leaders have been helping with the creation of a transitional council, as gang violence continues unabated. It was originally supposed to have seven members with voting powers. But one political party in Haiti rejected the seat they were offered, and another is still squabbling over who should be nominated.

Meanwhile, the deployment of a UN-backed Kenyan police force to fight gangs in Haiti has been delayed, with the East African country saying it would wait until the transitional council is established.

In a bid to curb the relentless violence, Haiti's government announced on Sunday that it was extending a nighttime curfew through to 20 March.

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