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25292: Wharram - news - 25 die after Haiti slum raids (fwd)
From Bruce Wharram <firstname.lastname@example.org>
25 die after Haiti slum raids
Sunday, June 5, 2005 Posted: 0809 GMT (1609 HKT)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) -- As many as 25 people were killed in
police raids on Friday and Saturday in the slums of Haiti's capital after
the government said it would get tougher on gangs, morgue workers and
Clerks at the morgue in the General Hospital said they had taken in 17
bodies on Saturday and three bodies on Friday after the raids in Bel-Air and
other Port-au-Prince slums, centers of support for ousted President
A Reuters journalist also saw five other bodies in two different areas of
Residents said the dead were shot by police and accused police of setting
slum homes on fire.
Police officials had no immediate comment on the death toll and it was not
clear whether all the victims were killed in the raids, or if some were shot
as gang members returned fire.
Haiti's interim government, backed by a 7,400-strong United Nations
peacekeeping force, has sought to stabilize the impoverished Caribbean
country since Aristide fled into exile as armed rebels closed in on the
capital in February 2004.
Human rights groups have accused the Haitian police of summary executions
and abuses against supporters of Aristide -- allegations denied by the
Justice Minister Bernard Gousse and other officials said on Friday
authorities planned tougher action against armed gangs in pro-Aristide
slums, where victims of a recent wave of hundreds of kidnappings are often
said to be held.
At least 740 people have been killed in criminal and political violence in
Haiti since September. A French diplomat was shot to death this week while
driving in the capital.
"The police arrived, they started shooting. There were other people shooting
too, but they managed to flee," said Ronald Macillon, a Bel-Air resident.
"The police killed a lot of people and set several homes on fire," Macillon
Several other witnesses gave similar accounts.
A spokesman for U.N. troops in Bel-Air, Col. Carlos Barcelos, told Reuters
the Brazilian contingent based in that slum did not take part directly in
the raids, but put up checkpoints and secured the outside perimeter.
The Central Director for the Administrative Police, Renan Etienne, told
Reuters he could not say how many people were killed or comment on
allegations police set homes on fire, as he had not yet received police