Several killed as gangsters fire on protesters
A protester holds up a machete as a symbol of self-defense against gangs, during a protest against insecurity in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, August 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) – At least seven people were killed and several others injured after gunmen fired upon a protest that had been organised by a church leader on Saturday.

The parishioners, some armed with machetes, were marching through a suburb of the capital, Port-au-Prince, when the members of the gang, believed to be those in control of the suburb of Canaan, fired upon them with machine guns.

Officials fear that the death toll could rise given the number of persons badly wounded, while others have been kidnapped.

A video being circulated on social media showed people being shot at in the street, bodies lying on the ground and people who appeared to be hostages saying they thought the march was peaceful and had no idea it was about taking on the gang.

The suburb of Canaan, which was founded by survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake, is controlled by a gang led by a man identified only as "Jeff", who is believed to be allied with the 5 Segonn "5 Seconds" gang.

Gédéon Jean, director of Haiti's Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, is quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying that that he watched the event unfold online and planned to ask the Ministry of Justice to investigate.

He also accused the pastor who organised the march of being irresponsible adding that the "police should have stopped them from going. It's extremely horrible for the state to let something like this happen.

Haiti has been thrown into turmoil since the July 7, 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, with the interim government of Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry urging the international community to send in a multinational force to maintain peace and security in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.

Last week, a 10 member-team from Kenya arrived on the island for discussions with the Government and various stakeholders.

Kenya's foreign minister, Alfred Mutua, has said that his country's commitment is to deploy a contingent of 1,000 police officers to help train and assist Haitian police restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations.

Jamaica and The Bahamas have already said they are willing to provide personnel and the United States has also indicated a willingness to put forward a United Nations Security Council resolution to back a deployment.

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