Haitian police rebels protest gang killings of officers
Disgruntled rebel police officers roared through the streets of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince on Thursday, blocking roads and shooting guns into the air to protest a slew of killings of police officers by Haitian gangs.
Gangs have killed at least 10 officers in the past week; another is missing and one more has severe bullet wounds, according to the Haitian National Police.
A video obtained by The Associated Press and acknowledged by police on Thursday -- likely recorded by gangs -- shows the naked and bloodied bodies of six officers stretched out on the dirt, their guns laying on their chests. The gang who killed them, known as Gan Grif, still has the bodies, police said.
The killings are just the latest example of escalating violence in the Caribbean nation, which has been gripped by gang wars and political chaos following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. His unelected successor has asked the United Nations to lead a military intervention, but no country has been willing to put boots on the ground.
The deaths enraged members of Fantom 509, an armed group of current and former police officers that has violently demanded better conditions for officers.
Dozens of these men wove through city on Thursday, many wearing hoods along with police uniforms, flak jackets and rifles and automatic weapons. They seized buses to blockade roads and torched tires across the city, leaving smoke plummeting through the streets.
Many demanded tougher crackdowns on the gangs, and called for the end to the current government of Ariel Henry, which many Haitians view as illegitimate. At one point, demonstrators broke down one of the gates outside Henry’s home.
“If they are killing police officers, me as a citizen, what should I do?” one protester in a mask screamed into an Associated Press camera. “The police are second only to God and we’re going to stand behind them.”
A video recorded by local Haitian media shows empty streets and closed businesses on a key road of Port-au-Prince where the rebel group passed through.
In addition to the bodies displayed by the gang, a number of officers were killed last week in a firefight with gangs in a neighbourhood that was once considered relatively safe.