Haiti's police said Thursday they have killed or apprehended the suspected killers of President Jovenel Moise and are hunting for the masterminds behind the assassination.
In a televised news briefing, authorities called for calm after hundreds of residents clamored outside a police station in Port-au-Prince where the suspects were being held, shouting "burn them" and setting fire to a vehicle they presumed belonged to the assassins.
One of the suspects seized Thursday is a U.S. citizen, The Washington Post reported, and another among the detainees may also be a Haitian-American, the Post said, citing Haiti’s minister of elections.
Other suspects were killed Wednesday by Haitian security forces in a fierce firefight that lasted late into the night.
Moise was shot dead early Wednesday at his home by what officials said was a commando of trained killers.
His violent death plunges the poorest country in the Americas deeper into chaos amidst political divisions, hunger and widespread gang violence.
It has also generated confusion about who is the legitimate leader of the country of 11 million people.
Moise had just this week appointed a new prime minister, Ariel Henry, to take over from interim prime minister Claude Joseph, although Henry had yet to be sworn in when the president was killed.
Joseph, however, has remained in charge, running the government response to the assassination, appealing to foreign governments for support, and declaring a state of emergency.
The U.N. special envoy for Haiti said on Thursday that Joseph will lead the Caribbean nation until an election is held, and urged all parties to set aside their differences.
"There certainly are tensions. There are certainly people on all sides of this issue. That's why it's important that dialogue happens and that the Haitian authorities and Haitian stakeholders have a dialogue so that a way forward can be started, one that gives the people of Haiti the opportunity to decide who their next government is."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. is also urging an election to be held this year.
"We know that free and fair elections will facilitate a peaceful transfer of power to a newly-elected president. And we certainly continue to support Haiti's democratic institutions."
Since he took office in 2017, Moise had faced mass protests against his rule, first over corruption allegations and his management of the economy, then over his increasing grip on power.
Officials have so far not given a motive for his killing.