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Mass jailbreak in Haiti, gangs threaten to take over the country

Following the incursion of armed gangs into a major jail in Port-au-Prince on Sunday, the Haitian government proclaimed a 72-hour state of emergency. During the jailbreak, over 3,700 prisoners fled, and at least 12 individuals were killed.

Gang leaders said they intend to compel Prime Minister Ariel Henry—who had been overseas—to resign. In Port-au-Prince, the factions trying to remove him hold almost 80% of the territory.
Haiti has long been plagued by gang violence.

Two jails, one in the capital and the other in the neighbouring town of Croix des Bouquets, were besieged over the weekend, according to a government statement. It said that the "disobedience" constituted a threat to national security and that, in reaction, an emergency curfew would be implemented at night. The curfew began at 20:00 local time (01:00 GMT on Monday).

Before the planned attack on the jails, other police stations were reportedly attacked, diverting attention from the authorities, according to Haitian media. 

Gang members charged with President Jovenel Moïse's 2021 assassination were among those held in Port-au-Prince.

When the prime minister went to Nairobi on Thursday to talk about dispatching a multinational security force to Haiti under the command of Kenya, that's when the most recent wave of violence started.

The "Barbecue" gang boss, Jimmy Chérizier, announced a planned takedown in an attempt to get rid of him. 

"We are all together, the armed groups in the capital and the armed groups in the province towns," declared the ex-policeman, who is believed to be responsible for multiple atrocities in Port-au-Prince.

Although the biggest prison in the capital, Haiti, had been requested by the police union to be reinforced by the military, the compound was attacked late on Saturday. The Reuters news agency said that the prison's doors were still open on Sunday and that no guards were visible. According to the report, three prisoners who attempted to escape lay dead in the courtyard. 

When a journalist from the AFP news agency visited the prison, she saw about ten dead, some of whom showed evidence of bullet wounds. 

A total of 99 inmates, including former Colombian soldiers imprisoned for the assassination of President Moïse, a volunteer prison worker told the Reuters news agency, had opted to stay in their cells out of fear of being killed in the crossfire.

Americans living in Port-au-Prince were asked to leave Haiti "as soon as possible" by the US embassy on Sunday. According to the French embassy, the closure of visa services is a "precaution."

While gangs have long been a problem in Haiti, since President Moïse was killed at home in 2021, the country has seen an increase in violence. Elections have not been held since 2016, and he has not been replaced. 

A political agreement required Mr. Henry to resign by February 7th. But the anticipated elections never happened, so he is still in office. Kenyan officials said on Monday that the prime minister had left for Haiti.Speaking to the BBC's Newsday, Claude Joseph, the president of the opposition group Those Committed to Development and acting prime minister during President Moïse's assassination, claimed that Haiti was going through a "nightmare."

According to Mr. Joseph, the goal of Prime Minister Henry was "to stay as long as possible in charge.""On February 7th, he agreed to resign. He now chooses to remain in office despite  the widespread calls for his resignation from the public throughout the nation. Regretfully, though, those criminals are now resorting to violent tactics to compel him to resign."

According to UN reports from January, almost 8,400 people—more than twice as many as in 2022—were killed, injured, or kidnapped as a result of gang violence in Haiti in 2022.
Because of the carnage, a lot of medical facilities have closed.
A combination of political unrest and outrage over the startlingly high levels of violence have sparked several anti-government protests, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of the prime minister.


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