Haiti: Hundreds of prisoners escape Port-au-Prince prison

World Sunday 03/March/2024 14:12 PM
Haiti: Hundreds of prisoners escape Port-au-Prince prison

Port-au-Prince : Hundreds of prisoners have escaped from Haiti's National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, after fighting erupted on Saturday, CNN reported citing a law enforcement source.

In a post on X, one of Haiti's Police Unions pleaded for all officers in the capital with access to cars and weapons to support police fighting to have control over the penitentiary. They warned that if the attackers were successful "we are done. No one will be spared in the capital because there will be 3,000 extra bandits now effective," according to the statement.

The most recent rise in violence, which started on Thursday and has targeted police stations, the international airport and the National Penitentiary, is unprecedented in recent years, CNN reported citing multiple security sources in Port-au-Prince.

On Friday, Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, also known as Barbecue, said he would continue to make efforts to try and oust Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, according to CNN report.

Cherizier said, "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." He added, "With these weapons, we will liberate the country, and these weapons will change the country."

Jimmy Cherizier, a former police officer, who heads an alliance of gangs, has faced sanctions from the US Department of Treasury and the United Nations, CNN reported.

People in Haiti disappointed over Henry's inability to control the unrest, boiled over after he did not step down in February, citing the escalating violence. Under a previous agreement, Ariel Henry had announced to hold elections and transfer power by February 7.

On Wednesday, Caribbean leaders said that Haitian PM Ariel Henry had agreed to hold general elections no later than August 31, 2025. The recent fighting that erupted on Thursday came at a time when Henry was travelling to Kenya to finalize details with Kenyan President William Ruto for the expected deployment of a multinational security support mission to Haiti.

Speaking to CNN, a Haitian law enforcement source said at least four people were killed and some of the stations were burnt after gangs targeted various police stations across the city since Thursday.

Meanwhile, gunfire near the airport on Thursday forced airlines to suspend flights. On Friday, the US Embassy in Haiti issued a security alert and warned of gunshots and disruptions to traffic near the domestic and international terminals of the airport as well as nearby areas including a hotel and the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police.

In recent years, Haiti has been grappled by a wave of unrest and gang violence. Warring gangs control much of Port-au-Prince, limiting vital supply lines to the rest of Haiti.

Gang members have also terrorized the metropolitan population, forcing more than 300,000 people to leave their homes amid waves of indiscriminate killing, kidnapping, arson and rape. In January, some 1100 people were killed, injured or kidnapped. The United Nations has termed January as the most violent month in two years