Violent Gangs Run Rampant in Haiti’s Capital Amid Rising Body Count

( – Dozens of people were killed on March 18 after armed gangs looted homes in the neighborhoods of Thomassin and Laboule in Petion-Ville, a suburb located outside the capital city of Port-au-Price in Haiti.

This is the first time since violence erupted in Haiti that the affluent neighborhoods have been affected. The gangs forced people to flee their homes, with some residents calling into radio stations attempting to get help from police. One of the people attacked in the neighborhood was a local judge. According to witnesses, the armed gangs attacked homes, a gas station, and a bank in the area.

All of those killed appeared to be men, according to an Associated Press photographer.

One witness, resident Vincent Jean Robert, said the gangs “massacred the population of Petion-Ville.”

The situation in Haiti has been called “horrific” by Unicef’s executive director, Catherine Russell.

The gangs also “destroyed and rendered completely dysfunctional” four substations of Haiti’s power company, taking items such as cables, batteries, and inverters.

The attacks in Haiti began at the end of February when former police officer Jimmy Cherizier called on Haiti’s gangs to unite and overthrow Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who he called on to resign. A neurosurgeon, Henry has been the prime minister since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

The gangs are opposed to Henry because they say the people did not elect him and blamed him for the country’s deepening poverty.

Following pressure from the United States and neighboring Caribbean countries, Henry agreed to resign as prime minister on March 11 to allow the formation of an interim government. However, the makeup of the Transitional Presidential Council, which will include seven voting members and two observer members, is still being decided. The council members will represent a broad spectrum in Haiti and will be responsible for naming an interim government before elections are held. Haiti has not held elections since 2016.

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