Members of armed groups are seen guarding the street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 19 September 2023. EFE/ Johnson Sabin

Eight alleged gang members lynched in Haiti after hospital attack

Port-au-Prince, Sept 26 (EFE).- At least eight gang members were lynched Tuesday by residents of Mirebalais and the nearby town of Saut d’Eau, northeast of Port-au-Prince, after they attacked a hospital with automatic weapons on Monday.

The University Hospital of Mirebalais, a town about 40 kilometers northeast of the Haitian capital, experienced a hellish night under direct fire from automatic weapons.

The health center, usually frequented by vulnerable people, is now riddled with bullet holes.

Since the early hours of Tuesday morning, youths armed with machetes and sticks have been roaming the streets of Mirebalais and Saut d’Eau in search of other alleged members of the attacker gang, who may be hiding in fields or abandoned houses.

Since April, more than 250 suspected gangsters have been killed in Haiti as part of the Bwa Kale movement, which was launched by people in various parts of the country to combat the actions of armed bands in their neighborhoods.

New attacks despite announced ceasefire

The attack on the Mirabalais hospital comes days after the leaders of the main coalitions of armed groups, such as the GPEP and the G9, announced a truce to facilitate the resumption of activities in Haiti.

The two armed coalitions now claim to be united in an association called Vivre Ensemble (Living Together).

For several days, however, Saut d’Eau has been the subject of repeated attacks by gangs from Village de Dieu (in the heart of Port-au-Prince), in which at least a dozen civilians have died and a police station has been set on fire.

These actions came after a shipment of ammunition from the Village de Dieu gang was allegedly stolen by civilians, according to videos circulating on social media.

On Monday, upon his return from the United Nations General Assembly, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry responded to the alleged truce between armed groups by stating that bandits are still bandits and cannot facilitate peace and coexistence.

“Gangs cannot bring peace. Gangs cannot unite people. Gangs are a symbol of division. The acts of dishonesty in Saut d’Eau and the acts of destruction in Carrefour-Feuilles clearly show that bandits are still bandits. Bandits are criminals. Bandits are murderers,” he said.

Territorial struggles

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a document released last week that another gang ceasefire agreed in mid-July appeared to be holding.

However, it warned that the groups “appear to be taking advantage of this calm to focus their efforts on extending their control to areas not yet under their influence.”

The situation has led to extremely violent clashes between the gangs and the local population, especially in neighborhoods where self-defense groups have formed.

“It is possible that the change in gang dynamics is partly related to the progress made in the talks on the deployment of a multinational security support mission,” the organization said. EFE