Armed gangs kill 12 in Haiti as public security crisis deepens

Gangs that control much of Haiti have targeted the town of Cabaret for months, displacing thousands of people.

Gang members have killed at least 12 people and burnt down houses in a town near Haiti’s capital, according to the mayor.

Joseph Jeanson Guillaume said on Wednesday that police and residents drove gangsters out of the town of Cabaret, north of the capital Port-au-Prince, a few days ago, but they returned and attacked.

“This morning we found several charred bodies,” said Guillaume.

Much of Haiti is controlled by powerful gangs that have targeted Cabaret for months.

The attacks on the city disrupt traffic and commerce because it is located along a main road, the mayor said.

In July 2021, President Jovenel Moise was assassinated, exacerbating political instability and an ongoing economic crisis.

The volatility led to gangs gaining more control and power, as thousands of people fled the country.

According to the United Nations, the police force numbered 13,000 in September, meaning the police are outnumbered – one in every 1,000 people.

“Almost 96,000 people have been displaced by gangs in the capital alone,” Al Jazeera’s Prue Lewarne reported from Port-Au-Prince.

The displaced residents of the capital’s Cite Soleil neighborhood said they had no water, food or place to sleep. According to the UN, about 19,000 Cite Soleil residents are suffering catastrophic starvation, Lewarne said.

Ulrika Richardson, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, has said October recorded 195 killings — about three a day — along with 102 kidnappings.

Armed gangs that control about 60 percent of the territory in Port-au-Prince use “sexual violence, including rape … to instill fear and to punish and terrorize the local population,” Richardson said.

In October, UN officials reported that gangsters blockading a major fuel terminal in Haiti caused catastrophic starvation on the island, with more than four million people facing severe insecurity and more than 19,000 others suffering famine.

Haiti formally requested international aid to regain control in October, but nothing came of the call.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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