Haiti Police Probe Killings of Parishioners Led into Gang Territory
In a tragic incident in Haiti, a religious gathering turned violent as parishioners armed with machetes and sticks attempted to rid their community of gang members. The attempt resulted in a deadly clash, with multiple people killed and several others kidnapped by the gang members they were confronting.
Director of Haiti’s National Police vowed on Monday that all those involved in encouraging parishioners to take up machetes and sticks will be held accountable.
Involvement of Religious Leader and Gangs
The religious leader leading the effort was identified as Marcorel Zidor. He participated in the protest, accompanied by unidentified individuals wearing olive green attire and carrying assault rifles. The group of parishioners marched towards the Canaan community, which is situated north of the capital and was established by survivors of the 2010 earthquake. The community is under the control of a powerful gang leader known as “Jeff,” who is allied with another gang referred to as “Five Seconds.”
Police Response and Tragedy
The police, led by Chief Frantz Elbé, had attempted to dissuade the religious group from pursuing their plan due to the potential for violence. However, the group proceeded with their march. Gunfire erupted as they confronted the gang members, resulting in multiple fatalities and several abductions. The police were unable to intervene effectively due to the group splitting into two factions.
Chief Elbé emphasized the police’s ongoing efforts to counter the influence of gangs, which are estimated to control a significant portion of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The gangs have been involved in various criminal activities, including burning houses and causing panic among residents.
Challenges and Ongoing Violence
The incident highlights the challenges faced by law enforcement in addressing gang-related violence in Haiti. Gang activity has contributed to a high level of violence in the country, with thousands of reported killings, kidnappings, and injuries. Additionally, a civilian movement known as “bwa kale” has emerged, targeting suspected gang members and resulting in more casualties.
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