08.07.2021 – 08:44
Haiti police have killed four suspects and arrested two others hours after the assassination of the country’s president, Jovenel Moise, at his private residence on the outskirts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Three police officers held hostage by armed suspects were released late Wednesday, said Léon Charles, Haiti Police Chief.
The events come amid growing chaos in a country where gang violence has escalated and there have been protests against the president’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
Haitian Ambassador to the United States Bocchit Edmond had earlier called during a press conference covering the State Department that Haiti would seek help and expertise from the United States.
“A stable Haiti is in the interest of the United States,” he said.
Haiti’s border with the Dominican Republic and its airports are closed, the ambassador said.
Haiti has declared a state of curfew, as caretaker Prime Minister Claude Joseph announced during a speech on state television Wednesday morning.
Prime Minister Joseph said he is running the country and martial law is being enforced there, while Haiti’s borders and its main airport have been closed.
Asked by VOA if officials knew the nationalities of the gunmen, Ambassador Edmond said he was not sure, but based on videos taken by national police and considered credible, the killers, whom he described as “mercenaries” “, Were dressed as agents of the American Anti-Drug Agency
“They speak Spanish and introduced themselves as DEA agents. We know full well that this is not the way the DEA works. I believe they are fake agents. “The experts who saw the video said they were professional killers,” the ambassador told reporters.
First Lady Martine Moise, who was shot during the attack, is in stable but critical condition, the ambassador said. Preparations are underway to transfer him to a Miami hospital for treatment.
One of the president’s children who was at home during the attack has been sent to a safe place.
US President Joe Biden condemned the attack and expressed condolences in a statement issued by the White House.
“We condemn this heinous act and express our sincere condolences to the First Lady Moïse. The United States comforts the people of Haiti. “We are ready to help as we continue to work for a more secure Haiti.”, the statement said.
Mr Biden called the attack “disturbing”, adding that “we need a lot more information” while answering a reporter’s question as he was leaving the White House.
In New York, the president of the United Nations Security Council, French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere, said the council was deeply shocked by the assassination.
The council will meet privately Thursday morning to discuss developments. The United Nations has about 1,200 staff members in Haiti as part of its political mission there. Haiti has experienced political instability and division, as well as growing gang violence.