UPDATE 7/7, 9:58 p.m. ET: Haitian security forces are said to have killed four “suspected assassins” of President Jovenel Moïse and arrested two others in the Pétion-Ville district. The news came just hours after the divisive political leader was gunned down at his home in the region’s upscale Pelerin neighborhood.
“The alleged assassins of [Moise] intercepted by the national police in Pelerin shortly before 6 pm this evening ”, communication secretary Frantz Exantus tweeted.
According to Associated press, the chief of the national police of Haiti, Léon Charles, confirmed that three police officers who had been held hostage were also released Wednesday evening. Authorities have yet to publicly identify the suspected killers; However, Haitian Ambassador to the United States Bocchit Edmond said the attack “was carried out by foreign mercenaries and professional killers – well orchestrated”.
The alleged killers were reportedly overheard speaking English and Spanish as they introduced themselves as agents of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Although the US embassy has confirmed that the DEA has an office in the Haitian capital, sources say none of the attackers were with the agency.
Moses’ wife was also injured in the attack and has since been transported to Miami for treatment. Edmond said the first lady was in stable but critical condition.
President Joe Biden called the assassination a “heinous act” and reassured Haiti that the US government was ready to help the nation.
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the horrific assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the attack on First Lady Martine Moïse of Haiti”, Biden said in a statement. “We condemn this heinous act, and I send my sincere best wishes for the recovery of First Lady Moses. The United States offers its condolences to the Haitian people and we stand ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti. “
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Jovenel Moïse, the 42nd president of Haiti, was killed at his home on Wednesday.
In a press release, Claude Joseph — currently the interim President, a former prime minister, called the attack a “heinous, inhuman and barbaric” act. By an Associated Press’ reportJoseph also said that the “security situation” in the country is under the control of the national police and the armed forces.
“Democracy and the republic will win,” he added.
Moïse, 53, was assassinated in an attack on his private residence which also hospitalized First Lady Martine Moïse. He had been president since early 2017, after the official November 2016 election results showed him to be the winner. However, those who opposed Moïse had argued that his five-year term should have ended on February 7 of this year, which marked five years since his predecessor Michel Martelly stepped down.
Moses’ time as president, as detailed in another BBC News report, had seen the member of the Haitian Party Tèt Kale being accused of corruption. Anti-government protests were also sparked, including pressure for Moses to resign. Meanwhile, Moïse had argued that his tenure included another year due to the fact that he was not officially in office until February 2017.
As of this writing, other details about the assassination, including who was responsible, were unclear. Earlier this year, Moses claims that an attempt to kill him and overthrow the government had been stopped. At the time, at least 23 people were arrested during protests in the streets of the capital Port-au-Prince and elsewhere.
In recent weeks, thousands of people have been confused after having been forced to flee their homes in the area due to the violence. Among those killed in a series of attacks in late June were activist Antoinette Duclair and radio personality Diego Charles, the Haitian government mentionned.
Amid protests against US-backed Moses in March, a number of celebrities showed their support for the #FreeHaiti movement.