Five armed Haitian environmental officers killed in clash with police From Reuters

©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Residents carry belongings as they leave their homes due to gang violence, in the Pernier section of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 30, 2024. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – At least five officers from Haiti’s BSAP, an armed environmental agency that has evolved into a paramilitary force in recent years, were killed in a firefight with national police in Port-AU-PRINCE on Wednesday. au-Prince. the police union told reporters.

Haiti’s national police did not immediately respond to requests for more details or whether there had been any police casualties.

The clash follows days of protests across the country ahead of the February 7 date by which current unelected Prime Minister Ariel Henry had promised to step down and when Haitian presidents traditionally take the oath of office.

Former coup plotter Guy Philippe, repatriated to Haiti late last year after serving about six years in an American prison, had in recent weeks rallied supporters of a “revolution” against Henry’s government.

Local media AyiboPost reported quoting the head of the BSAP as saying many of its members are former soldiers who fought with Philippe in the ouster of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

Henry, who took power after the assassination of Haiti’s last president in 2021, last week called on BSAP members to register with the country’s environment ministry in an apparent crackdown on the agency.

Henry is expected to give a national address later Wednesday. In December 2022 he signed a non-binding agreement to step down by February 7, 2024, but he has since said that security conditions must be restored to hold free and fair elections.

The events come as police battle alliances of heavily armed gangs believed to control much of Haiti’s capital, fueling a humanitarian crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of people flee their homes to escape the violence.

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