Massive Prison Break and Violence Erupt in Haiti

In a dramatic escalation of violence, armed gangs launched a coordinated assault on Haiti’s main prison in Port-au-Prince, resulting in a massive jailbreak where hundreds of inmates, including those charged in connection with the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, fled amidst chaos. The attack, which occurred overnight, left at least five people dead and marked a significant downturn in the country’s ongoing crisis. This surge in violence comes as Prime Minister Ariel Henry seeks international support for a United Nations-backed security force to stabilize the nation.

The assault on the National Penitentiary, which housed close to 4,000 inmates, saw the vast majority escape, with fewer than 100 remaining behind bars. Among those who chose not to flee were 18 former Colombian soldiers implicated in President Moïse’s assassination, who issued a desperate plea for their lives in a video message. The violence spread beyond the prison walls, affecting multiple neighborhoods with reports of gunfire and even leading to the occupation and vandalism of the nation’s top soccer stadium.

The gangs, estimated to control up to 80% of Port-au-Prince, have intensified their attacks, targeting state institutions and once unthinkable locations like the Central Bank. The violence has not spared the police, with four officers killed in recent days, underscoring the gangs’ boldness and coordination. The Haitian National Police, significantly outnumbered and outgunned, face a daunting task with approximately 9,000 officers responsible for the security of over 11 million citizens.

Prime Minister Henry’s absence has further exacerbated the chaos as he traveled to Nairobi to discuss the deployment of a Kenyan-led multinational security force to Haiti. Despite the signing of an agreement to fast-track this deployment, violence has only worsened, with gang leader Jimmy Chérizier, also known as “Barbecue,” declaring a coordinated assault to oust Henry from power.

This wave of violence has left the Haitian capital and its residents in a state of siege, with the international community watching closely. The French embassy has advised against travel in and around Port-au-Prince, and Haiti’s police union has called for military support to reinforce the prison and restore order.

The situation in Haiti, already the poorest country in the Americas, has deteriorated significantly since the assassination of President Moïse, with gang violence claiming over 8,400 victims last year alone. The absence of elections since 2016 and the failure to replace Moïse have created a power vacuum that gangs have exploited, further destabilizing the country and complicating efforts to restore peace and order.

1 Response

  1. The post discusses a recent incident in Haiti where armed gangs attacked the country’s main prison in Port-au-Prince, leading to a large-scale jailbreak. The attack was coordinated, and hundreds of inmates managed to escape, including those who were charged in connection with the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

    This event highlights the escalating violence and instability in Haiti. The fact that armed gangs were able to carry out such a coordinated attack on a high-security facility raises concerns about

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