Official: Suspected gang members kill Haitian policeman amid spike in violence
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Suspected gang members ambushed a group of policemen, set their armored vehicle on fire and killed one officer in the latest attack against Haiti’s National Police force, authorities said.
The attack occurred late Wednesday in the community of Source Matelas, north of the capital of Port-au-Prince, police said.
“This criminal act is beyond reprehensible and will not go unpunished,” Haiti’s National Police said in a statement Thursday, adding that officers will not be intimidated.
A video circulating on social media showed the policeman’s body while alleged gang members mention the name Izo, leader of the “5 Seconds” gang, as one of them posed with the victim.
Also Wednesday, unidentified assailants opened fire on a car carrying anti-corruption judge Jean Wilner Morin, who survived the attack. Haiti's Communications Ministry said Friday that the attack occurred in the upscale suburb of Petionville. The agency describing it as “heinous and criminal" and noted that it would not stop Morin from carrying out his duties.
Gangs are estimated to control up to 80% of the capital and have seized control of communities north of Port-au-Prince that previously were considered safe as they continue to grow more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
More than 21 police officers were killed in the first three months of the year, according to the U.N. That number has risen, with another three killed in early April as the U.N. chief and others press for the immediate deployment of an international armed force that Haiti's prime minister requested in October to quell gang violence. But no one has shown any interest in leading such a force.
Haiti’s National Police is severely understaffed and under resourced, with some 13,200 active-duty officers serving a country of more than 11 million people. The international community has provided police training and equipment including armored vehicles paid for by Haiti's government, but several of these have been seized by heavily armed gangs.