Haiti protesters burn plane belonging to U.S. missionary group

Demonstators march in protest against gang violence and kidnappings, in Port-au-Prince

By Gessika Thomas and Brian Ellsworth

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) -Haitian demonstrators protesting against crime in the city of Les Cayes on Tuesday burned a plane belonging to U.S. missionary group Agape Flights, according to local media reports and an Agape spokeswoman.

The protesters entered the local airport in Les Cayes even though police fired tear gas at the group, according to a video of the incident filmed by online media group Cayes Infos.

The video shows dozens of people approaching the plane and pushing it down the tarmac. The plane is later seen on a street, apparently near the airport, where it was set on fire.

"Our team on the ground is safe, we're making preparations to get them back safely," said the spokeswoman for Agape Flights, a Venice, Florida based missionary group that flies mail and humanitarian supplies to Caribbean countries.

The organization is still gathering information about the incident, the spokeswoman added.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry via Twitter condemned the incident as "subversive" and called for the perpetrators to be investigated.

"I strongly condemn the violence by demonstrators which resulted in the burning of a plane at Les Cayes airport," he wrote.

It was not immediately evident why the protesters had targeted the plane.

The incident followed peaceful protests in other parts of the country in which activists demanded that Henry's government do more to address gang violence including constant kidnappings.

"There was no violence in the march," said Jean-Robert Argant, a member a human rights group called the December 4 Collective, at a Port-au-Prince rally that coincided with the 35th anniversary of the signed of the country's constitution.

"(Haiti is) suffering from the invasion of kidnapping and insecurity."

(Reporting by Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince and Brian Ellsworth in Miami; Editing by Sandra Maler)