PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, (AFP) – Armed men fired on a hospital in Haiti Tuesday, an official said, damaging an infant care unit and leaving patients in "shock," but without causing casualties in the latest violence to rock the Caribbean nation.
The attackers occupied the perimetres of the Mirebalais hospital -- one of the largest in the impoverished island -- from midnight (0400 GMT) until 5:00 am Tuesday, Dr Reginald Ternier told AFP by telephone.
"This morning, we could see bullet holes on the facades of several buildings" at the hospital, some 30 miles (50 kilometres) from the capital Port-au-Prince.
He said that an intensive care unit for newborns had also been damaged and that large-calibre shells had been found.
No deaths or gunshot wounds were reported after the attack, but Ternier said it had traumatised those seeking help at the hospital.
"Patients, residents and staff all experienced the attack in the middle of the night. They are in shock," he said.
"It's difficult for us to understand the motives behind such an attack. We receive patients from all walks of life, regardless of their social rank, affiliation or activities. We provide medical care to everyone."
Armed gangs have seized control of vast swathes of land in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, following intersecting public health, political and economic crises.
More than 2,400 people have died in violence there since the start of the year, according to the United Nations.
For months there have been calls for an international force to intervene, and earlier this month the United States said up to a dozen countries had offered support while pledging its own logistical assistance.
Kenya has offered to lead the force with a contribution of 1,000 security personnel and Jamaica, the Bahamas and Antigua have made known their willingness to participate -- though it could take months yet to materialise.
Men armed with automatic weapons also attacked Saut d'Eau, a village not far from Mirebalais, on Friday.
The village's mayor, Ruth Thelus, told Radio Magik 9 on Sunday that 11 people were killed, dozens wounded and several houses burned down.
Saut d'Eau was reportedly targeted in a new attack Monday, but there were no further details on any potential casualties.