Haitian Prime Minister flees under gunfire as Haiti rings the New Year – CBS17.com

FILE – Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry gives an interview at his private residence in Port-au-Prince, September 28, 2021. Haiti greeted the New Year with violence as the Prime Minister fled the city of Gonaïves, in the north of the country, Saturday January 1. , 2022 following a shootout between his security forces and an armed group that warned the leader not to set foot in the city. (AP Photo / Odelyn Joseph, file)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haiti greeted the New Year with violence as Prime Minister Ariel Henry fled the northern city of Gonaïves following a shootout between his forces of security and an armed group which had warned the chief not to set foot in the city.

Local media reported that one person died and two were injured in the gunfire which forced Henry and others to go into hiding and seek shelter as they walked out of a cathedral on Saturday after attending at a mass to celebrate Haiti’s independence from France.

The Prime Minister’s Office, contacted by The Associated Press, said on Monday that “bandits and terrorists” attempted to kill Henry and accused the group of hiding behind walls to attack the convoy and threatening the convoy. bishop circling the church.

“It is intolerable,” the office said, adding that it had issued arrest warrants.

A spokesperson for Haiti’s national police told the AP on Monday that the police had secured the area.

The incident is yet another blow to Henry’s fragile interim regime, which is battling deepening poverty and an upsurge in gang violence as it seeks to build a coalition to help run the country after the assassination on July 7 of President Jovenel Moïse, with general elections scheduled for July 7. mid-2022.

Henry mentioned the incident in a tweet thanking the Bishop of Gonaïves for having organized the mass “despite the tense situation in the city”.

The streets of Gonaïves were largely empty, as was its cathedral, Saint-Charles-de-Boromé, for the traditional celebrations of independence. Henry was unable to deliver his speech as planned after gunfire forced him to leave town. In 2020, Moïse skipped the trip to Gonaïves amid threats of violent protests.

In a statement in Haitian Creole shared on Twitter Sunday, Henry said: “Today our enemies, the enemies of the Haitian people, are the terrorists who do not hesitate to use violence to kill people with all their might, or to kidnap, to take away their freedom, to violate them. And do it all for money.

Henry has pledged to crack down on gangs that authorities have blamed for the upsurge in kidnappings and the blocking of gas distribution terminals, which has caused a severe fuel shortage in recent months and prompted the United States and Canada to urge their citizens to leave Haiti.

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