Gangs are trying to take control of Haiti's main airport

Heavily armed gangs attempted to take control of Haiti's main international airport, sparking a shootout with police and soldiers. The US has suspended official travel to the island and urged its citizens to leave the country as quickly as possible.


Heavily armed gangs tried to take control of Haiti's main international airport on Monday, exchanging fire with police and soldiers in the latest attack on key government facilities Mass escape from prisons in the country.

Toussaint Louverture International Airport was closed at the time of the attack and there were no aircraft in service or passengers on site.

Associated Press journalists saw an armored truck firing at gang members to prevent them from entering the airport grounds, while large numbers of employees fled the bullets. This is the largest airport attack in Haiti's history.

Relatives of Colombians imprisoned in Haiti

Amid the wave of violence, there were some shootings at the airport last week, but gang members did not enter the facilities or attempt to take control of the place.

The attack occurred just hours after the country's authorities They imposed a curfew Night after a wave of violence in which armed gang members stormed the country's two largest prisons over the weekend and released thousands of inmates.

The 72-hour state of emergency came into force on Sunday evening. The government said it would try to arrest escaped detainees, including some who were held in a prison where the vast majority were awaiting trial on charges including murder, kidnapping and other crimes.

“The police have been instructed to use all legal means at their disposal to enforce the curfew and arrest any criminals,” said a statement from Finance Minister Patrick Boivert, who is serving as interim prime minister.

Haiti: We were sleeping when we heard the sound of bullets, says a prisoner after a mass prison breakout

It is estimated that gangs already control up to 80% of the capital Port-au-Prince. Their actions are becoming increasingly coordinated and they are selecting targets that were previously unthinkable, such as the central bank.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry traveled abroad last week to rally support for one Deployment of a security force The initiative, supported by the United Nations, is intended to help stabilize Haiti in the conflict with increasingly powerful criminal groups.

According to the United Nations, the Caribbean nation's national police have around 9,000 agents to ensure the safety of more than 11 million residents. You see them often overwhelmed and inferior.

The deadly weekend marked a new milestone in Haiti's spiraling violence. At least nine people have been killed – four – since Thursday in coordinated gang attacks on state institutions in Port-au-Prince, including the country's international airport and national soccer stadium including police officers.

Also Read: Gang leader in Haiti announces 'revolution' as PM Ariel Henry visits Kenya

But Saturday night's attack on the national prison shocked Haitians accustomed to living under the constant threat of violence.

Almost all of the approximately 4,000 inmates were able to escape. Three bodies with gunshot wounds lay at the entrance to the prison on Sunday.

In another neighborhood, the bloodied bodies of two men lay facedown with their hands tied behind their backs as residents circled the barricades erected with burning tires.

Among the few dozen people who chose to remain in prison were 18 former Colombian soldiers accused of acting as mercenaries in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.

“Please, please help us… They are massacring people indiscriminately in the cell,” one of the men, Francisco Uribe, said in a video that was shared widely on social media.

The Colombian Foreign Ministry called on Haiti to provide the men with “special protection.”

Also read: Dominican Republic President says there will be no Haitian refugee camps

A second prison in Port-au-Prince, which held around 1,400 inmates, was also captured.

Shots were reported in several districts of the capital. Many of the residents did not have internet access; Haiti's main mobile network said a fiber optic cable had been cut during the violence.

After gang members opened fire at Haiti's international airport last week, the U.S. Embassy announced it was suspending all official travel to the country. On Sunday evening, he called on all Americans staying on Haitian territory to leave the country as quickly as possible.

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration – which has refused to commit troops to a multinational force for Haiti but has offered money and logistical support – said it is monitoring the rapidly deteriorating security situation closely and with grave concern.

Also read: USA seeks support for security mission in Haiti

The rise in attacks follows protests that turned deadly in recent days after the prime minister traveled to Kenya to try to bolster the United Nations-backed security mission that was to be led by the East African country.

Henry took over as prime minister after Moïse's assassination and postponed plans to hold parliamentary and presidential elections, which had not been held in the country for almost a decade.

Jimmy Chérizier, a former elite police officer known as Barbecue who now leads a coalition of gangs, took credit for the wave of attacks. He indicated that the goal was to arrest the police chief and Haitian government ministers and prevent Henry's return.

The prime minister, a trained neurosurgeon, rejected calls to resign from office and did not comment on whether he thought it was safe to return to Haiti.

Connect with the voice of America! Subscribe to our channels Youtube, Whatsapp and to Newsletter. Turn on notifications and follow us Facebook, X And Instagram.