Violence surges as Haiti gang leader aims to unseat PM

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

STORY: Chaos and violence surged in Haiti’s capital on Friday (March 1).

Heavy gunfire rang out in Port-au-Prince, after a Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, known as Barbecue, warned he would try to oust Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Bodies of slain victims lay on streets. It was unclear how many have died so far.

There were unverified reports of armed men trying to take control of the capital’s main container port.

The gangs also reportedly threatened to attack more police stations.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm these claims.

Assault rifle in hand, Cherizier addressed the island's law enforcement:

""We ask the Haitian National Police and the military to take responsibility and arrest Ariel Henry. Once again, the population is not our enemy; the armed groups are not your enemy. You arrest Ariel Henry for the country's liberation."

In a statement, Prime Minister Henry’s office said it was "outraged by the acts of violence and terror orchestrated by armed bandits."

The fresh attacks ramped up during Henry's visit to Kenya this week – where he reached a security deal with Nairobi removing legal obstacles that stop the sending of Kenyan police officers to Haiti, to tackle gang violence in a U.N.-approved mission.

Haitian gangs have grown in strength in the power vacuum since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, Henry’s predecessor.

At a recent Caribbean summit, Henry told leaders he would hold elections by 2025, after postponing an earlier pledge due to the insecurity.