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Police operation in Haiti capital against 'Barbecue' gang

This satellite image courtesy of Maxar Technologies shows roadblocks and burning debris in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince on March 14, 2024 (-)
This satellite image courtesy of Maxar Technologies shows roadblocks and burning debris in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince on March 14, 2024 (-)

Police in Haiti seized firearms and cleared roadblocks in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood controlled by notorious gang leader Jimmy "Barbecue" Cherizier, in an operation that left several criminals dead, authorities said Saturday.

National police units entered the Delmas neighborhood Friday evening with the aim of unblocking a road, said Lionel Lazarre of the Haitian police union.

Several "bandits" were killed, he said. A later police statement said officers exchanged gunfire with men from Cherizier's gang, seized firearms and succeeded in unblocking roads.

"New strategies are being implemented by the police with the aim of recovering certain areas occupied by these armed gangs in recent days, in order to facilitate the free movement of peaceful citizens," the statement said, without providing details.

Another operation was underway Saturday morning as law enforcement attempted to regain control of the capital's main port, where gangs had looted several containers, a source at the port told AFP.

The port has been shut since March 7 because of the violence.

Haitians have been on edge in recent days awaiting the naming of a transitional governing body meant to restore stability to the impoverished country, wracked by gang violence and left largely isolated from the outside world.

Some are hoping a transitional council can fill the void left by departing Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who is leaving amid pressure from an offensive by gangs that control 80 percent of the capital.

Yet many have decried the pending establishment of a transitional council, a move supported by Caribbean regional body CARICOM, the United Nations and the United States.

The country has a long, brutal history of foreign interventions, from a 20-year American occupation in the early 1900s to a deadly cholera outbreak linked to a UN peacekeeping mission in the 2010s.

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