PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) — Civilian protesters and police marched through Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday to demonstrate against a slew of killings of police officers by armed gangs in worsening violence in the Caribbean nation.
Streets were blocked with barricades the day after gangs, who control much of Haiti and regularly kidnap people for ransom, attacked police headquarters in Liancourt, a town in the north of Haiti, killing six officers.
The protesters tried to storm the offices of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and ran onto the runway of Toussaint Louverture International Airport, disrupting air traffic. Schools were shut down for the day.
On Wednesday, two officers were killed by attackers before four others were dragged outside the police station and “executed,” police commissioner Jean Bruce Myrtil told local radio.
Fourteen police officers have been killed by armed gangs since the beginning of the year, according to the National Union of Haitian Police Officers.
Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas, has been gripped by a worsening political and economic crisis, triggered by the July 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise.
The UN recorded 1,359 kidnappings last year. More than 2,000 murders were recorded in 2022, up by a third from the year before.
According to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ latest report on Haiti, the police force remains “overstretched, understaffed and under-resourced.”
© Agence France-Presse