Savage attacks by thugs in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince have left at least 30 people dead as the country suffers from widespread gang violence.
The attacks over the last few days have also left dozens injured, four people are missing.
The criminal gang – headed by gangster Renel Destina – looted and burned down homes in the Carrefour-Feuilles district of Port-au-Prince. Destina is wanted by the FBI for numerous kidnappings of US citizens. The Bureau said he should be considered “armed and dangerous”.
One woman told AFP she had many family members in the attacks including her mother, stepfather, 18-year-old son, two sisters and a brother.
More than 5,000 people have fled the violence in the area since the beginning of this week as all semblance of law and order has broken down.
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The refugees fled cramming what little belongings they could carry into cars or carrying them on motorbikes. Others fled on foot.
Thousands sought refuge in local schools and a sports centre while others slept in the street or in makeshift tents.
Haiti has been hit by instability in the midst of a years-long economic, political and security crisis which has allowed gangs to take control of the capital and its one million residents.
In July 2021, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home in Port-au-Prince, further destabilizing a country already on the brink. Years of lawless violence have followed, particularly in the capital city.
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In July this year, US Embassy evacuated all non-emergency embassy staff and issued a level 4 travel advisory due to the surging violence.
“Do not travel to Haiti due to kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health care infrastructure. On July 27, 2023, the Department of State ordered the departure of family members of US government employees and non-emergency US government employees,” the Embassy said in a statement.
It urged all US citizens to depart the island but to monitor local news and move in Port-au-Prince only “when considered safe” to do so.
“Violent crime, often involving the use of firearms, such as armed robbery, carjackings, and kidnappings for ransom that include US citizens are common. Mob killings against presumed criminals have been on the rise since late April,” it added.
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