Gunfire Erupts in Downtown Port-au-Prince as Police Battle Gangs near National Palace

People look at the the bodies of three persons shot dead after an overnight shooting in the Pétion Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 1, 2024.(AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

(Port Au Prince, Haiti) Heavy gunfire shook the downtown area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, on Monday as police clashed with gang members near the National Palace, leading to chaos and fear among residents.

Reports from local media indicated that the intense exchange of fire resulted in at least one policeman being shot after he and his colleagues were forced to abandon an armored car that was subsequently set ablaze.

Amid the violence, numerous individuals found themselves trapped in the crossfire, with some managing to escape while others remained stranded for hours. One anonymous survivor recounted his ordeal, crediting the armored car for providing cover that enabled his safe exit from the area.

Efforts to obtain official comments from Haiti’s National Police were unsuccessful, leaving many questions unanswered regarding the ongoing security crisis gripping the nation.

This latest outbreak of violence follows a series of attacks by powerful gangs targeting critical government infrastructure over the past month. The situation has escalated significantly, with police stations torched, the main international airport under fire, and mass prison breaks releasing thousands of inmates.

Although some areas have witnessed a slight decrease in violence since the attacks began, the sound of gunfire remains a daily occurrence, exacerbating the sense of insecurity and instability.

The turmoil has prompted Prime Minister Ariel Henry to announce his impending resignation, contingent upon the establishment of a transitional council tasked with selecting his successor and forming a new government. However, the process has faced challenges, with legal and constitutional concerns raised regarding the council’s legitimacy.

Despite these hurdles, Haiti’s government remains committed to facilitating a peaceful transition of power, emphasizing the need for adherence to constitutional principles and the rule of law in charting the country’s path forward amidst the ongoing turmoil.

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