By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Protesters in civilian clothing who identified themselves as police officers attacked the private residence of Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Thursday to protest the killing of more than 10 officers this month by armed gangs.
Gunshots were heard and several vehicles were left with broken windows near Henry's home located in the Delmas 60 sector in the capital Port-au-Prince, videos circulating on social media showed.
Hundreds of angry demonstrators blocked roads, shot guns into the air and erected barricades of burning tires in several neighborhoods of the city to paralyze traffic. The escalating violence has interrupted public transportation and forced schools to close.
The violent events started taking place before the return of the prime minister from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit held in Argentina. To prevent Henry's plane from landing, the demonstrators went to the airport, where they intended to attack the head of government who, they say, is responsible for the deterioration of the country's security situation.
Local media reported that armed men were robbing foreign passengers in the car park and razing airport stores to the ground. Henry was allowed to leave the terminal.
Gangs have killed at least 10 officers in the past week, according to the Haitian National Police. In 2022, more than 55 security officers were killed in the country, which is dealing with gang violence, kidnappings, robberies, rapes, shortages of food, water and fuel and a cholera outbreak that has worsened the political crisis that the Caribbean nation has been experiencing in recent months.
The government of the island nation has asked the international community for military assistance to address the epidemic and the actions by criminal gangs that have taken over the country.
This week, the UN special envoy for Haiti urged the US and Canadian governments to lead an international armed force to confront the criminal groups, but no country has offered to lead the force.