April 15, 2024

Columbus Post

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State of emergency in Haiti: Mobs attack airport


Haiti in a state of emergencyGang attack on international airport

Shortly after declaring a state of emergency in Haiti, gang members wanted to take over the airport.

  • Around 3,700 inmates escaped in an attack on the National Penitentiary over the weekend.

  • As gang violence escalates in Haiti, the government has declared a state of emergency.

  • Hours later, gang members attempt to take over the international airport.

Amid an outbreak of violence in Haiti, suspected gang members have tried to take over the country's main international airport and have engaged in gun battles with police and soldiers. AP reporters observed gunfire from an armored vehicle to prevent attackers from attacking the runway at Aéroport Toussaint Louverture north of the capital Port-au-Prince on Monday. The intruders fired back. Several airport staff fled after being hit by bullets.

At the time of the attack, the airport was closed, with no air traffic and no passengers on board. Onlookers spoke of the biggest attack on an airport in the country's history. Just last week, the airport was briefly attacked by mobs in a series of attacks, but no effort was made to control the area.

A three-day state of emergency was declared

The government declared a state of emergency for at least three days hours before the attack on the international airport, given the escalating situation in Haiti following an attack by armed gangs on the national prison in the capital Port-au-Prince. On Sunday evening, the government announced that this will apply to the entire western sector of the state capital and may be extended. Also, a 6 am to 5 am curfew will be enforced till Wednesday to “bring the situation back under control”.

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The government took the move in view of “attacks by armed gangs on the country's two largest prisons”, “deaths and injuries among police and prison staff, dangerous prisoner escapes and the devastation of these facilities”.

The country is plunged into chaos and anarchy

At least three people were killed and hundreds of inmates escaped in an attack by armed gangs on Haiti's largest prison over the weekend. Fewer than 100 of the nearly 4,000 inmates are still in prison, human rights lawyer Arnel Remy, who works with prisoners there, wrote in Sunday's X. AP reporters found the gate open on Sunday morning. . No guards in sight; Three bodies were lying on the ground with gunshot wounds.

Haiti has plunged deeper into chaos and anarchy in recent years. In July 2021, President Jovenal Moise was assassinated, and 80 percent of the capital Port-au-Prince is now controlled by armed gangs. Things have taken a turn for the worse in the past few days, with a spate of gunfire bringing life to a standstill in the capital. During a trip abroad, Prime Minister Ariel Henry tried to set the course for the deployment of an international police force to bring the situation back under control.

Observers see the mass explosion as a new low for the country. The prison guards did little to resist the onslaught. “You need help,” wrote a police association on social networks – posting the SOS symbol eight times. “We will mobilize the army and the police to prevent robbers from entering the prison,” it said.

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“They randomly slaughter people in cells.”

Among those still in prison after the explosion – apparently on their own volition – were 18 former Colombian soldiers who allegedly served as mercenaries in the assassination of ex-President Moise. They asked for help. “Please help us,” said a video posted online by some Colombians. “They slaughter people randomly in cells.”

The escalation of violence came a day after a meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Caribbean leaders in Guyana, where he pledged to schedule long-awaited general elections for mid-2025. He then went to Kenya to lead a United Nations-backed police mission in Haiti. Henry's visit was aimed at saving the deal, which had been ruled unconstitutional by Kenya's High Court.

National police numbers were high

Haiti's National Police has 9,000 officers to protect eleven million people. They don't stand a chance against outnumbered and heavily armed gangs.

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