Two Jordanian soldiers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) were shot dead and another was injured on Jan. 17 in clashes with unidentified armed assailants in the Drouillard neighborhood of Port-au-Prince’s impoverished Cite Soleil section. One soldier died at the scene; the other died in the hospital. Another Jordanian soldier was killed Dec. 24 while patrolling Cite Soleil; a total of nine MINUSTAH soldiers and one police agent have been killed since the mission began in June 2004.
Drouillard residents said the people who fired on the MINUSTAH troops came from outside the neighborhood. “[T]hey are people who infiltrate the local population in the area and fire on the MINUSTAH patrols with the aim of provoking raids,” said one resident, who charged that the goal was to cause chaos before the scheduled Feb. 7 presidential and legislative elections. Some residents said the MINUSTAH troops fired back when they were attacked, killing 12 people. (Haiti Support Group News Briefs, Jan. 17 from AFP; Agence Haitienne de Presse, Jan. 17) Other reports say at least two civilians were killed and eight were wounded by gunfire, including a one-year-old girl and an 11-month-old boy. (Inter Press Service, Jan. 18)
Violence has been increasing in Port-au-Prince. Police agent Jean Robert Lubin was killed on Charles Sumner Avenue in the center of the city on Jan. 18; another police agent, Fritzner Davout, was killed at Bicentenaire, in the south of the capital, on Jan. 19. The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Cite Soleil received 47 gunshot victims in the first 16 days of 2006; four of them died. The hospital received 80 gunshot victims in December, up from 34 in November. This doesn’t count the victims taken to a Red Cross emergency center in Cite Soleil or the ones who died without receiving medical attention.
Different political currents blame each other for the violence, which they say is intended to disrupt the elections. Cite Soleil is a stronghold of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s backers. Many of them support the Lespwa (“Hope”) candidate, former president Rene Preval (1996-2001), who is the front runner, according to opinion polls; some Preval militants claim his opponents are the ones who have an interest in destabilizing the country before the elections. (AlterPresse, Jan. 19; IPS, Jan. 18; Washington Times, Jan. 17)
As of Jan. 16, both MINUSTAH and the Brazilian government had confirmed that the shooting death of MINUSTAH military head Lt. Gen. Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar on Jan. 7 was a suicide. (Adital, Jan. 16) Doubts persist in Haiti. On Jan. 12 a Brazilian journalist asked MINUSTAH spokesperson Damian Onses Cardona in a press conference about evidence that the door to Gen. Bacellar’s hotel room had been forced. Onses Cardona said he couldn’t answer the question. (AlterPresse, Jan. 1s) On Jan. 19, UN General Secretary Kofi Annan named another Brazilian officer, Maj. Gen. Jose Elito Siqueira Carvalho, to head the military mission. (AlterPresse, Jan. 21)
On Jan. 10 the British daily The Independent reported that in an internal inquiry into a July 6, 2005, MINUSTAH raid in Cite Soleil, the United Nations for the first time admitted that a number of innocent civilians may have become “collateral victims” during a lengthy exchange of fire with followers of gang leader Emmanuel (“Dread”) Wilmer. (The Independent, Jan. 10)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 22
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