The Haitian National Police managed to kill four suspects and arrest two others who they said were involved in the well-coordinated assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Law enforcement officials across the country said a shootout between police and other suspects was underway Thursday morning.
Leon Charles, the country’s top cop, told reporters that police are still looking for suspects, The New York Times reported.
“Four mercenaries were killed [and] two were intercepted under our control, ”Charles said, according to the BBC. “Three police officers who had been taken hostage were recovered. we blocked [the suspects] en route as they left the scene of the crime. We have been fighting with them ever since. “
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The gunmen were highly trained and spoke Spanish or English, said Claude Joseph, the country’s acting prime minister, according to the Associated Press. The BBC pointed out that Haiti’s official languages are Creole and French.
Another national official called the assassins “well-trained professional commandos” and “foreign mercenaries” who carried high-powered weapons, dressed in black and posed as agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
Details of the attack were scarce and there is no known motive. The suspects killed in the shooting have not been identified. Joseph’s office said the attack took place at the president’s private home in Port-au-Prince around 1 a.m. local time and that he was fatally injured. Joseph told the newspaper that he was running the country.
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The Times reported that Martine Moïse, the president’s wife, was also seriously injured in the attack and is being treated in a Florida hospital. The BBC reported that she was listed in stable but critical condition.
Moïse was a 48-year-old businessman with little political experience when he was sworn in as President of Haiti on February 7, 2017. The former banana farmer inherited a nation in turmoil – one who had spent a year without an elected leader in place. It also leaves him in chaos.
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Upon taking office, he pledged to strengthen institutions, fight corruption and bring more investment and jobs to the hemisphere’s poorest nation. “We can change Haiti if we work together,” Moïse said on the grounds of what was once the National Palace – one of many buildings destroyed by an earthquake in January 2010 that killed thousands of Haitians.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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