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25717: Holmstead: (news) Re: 25708: Holmstead (news) Reuters- U.N. troops accused in deaths of Haiti residents (fwd)
From: John Holmstead <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FROM: John Holmstead <email@example.com>
U.N. troops accused in deaths of Haiti residents
15 Jul 2005 15:01:08 GMT
CRISIS PROFILE: Is Haiti on the brink of civil war?
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, July 14 (Reuters) - Opposition
groups and residents of two Port-au-Prince slums say
dozens of innocent people were killed during anti-gang
raids by U.N troops and Haitian police last week, but
U.N. and police officials denied the accusations.
The Lawyers Committee for Individual Rights, a group
known as CARLI and regarded as one of the most
independent rights groups operating in Haiti, said
U.N. peacekeepers and Haitian police killed unarmed
residents, including children and elders, in the slums
of Bel-Air and Cite Soleil, strongholds of supporters
of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
"We have credible information that U.N. troops,
accompanied by Haitian police, killed an undetermined
number of unarmed residents of Cite Soleil, including
several babies and women," Renan Hedouville, the head
of CARLI, told Reuters this week.
An assistant to Brazilian General Augusto Heleno,
commander of the U.N. force, called the accusations
"We have no information about any killing of unarmed
civilians, ladies or babies by our forces," Brazilian
marine Commander Alfredo Taranto said.
"Our action was directed against the armed gangs and
only against the armed gangs," said Taranto. Haitian
police officials also denied the accusations.
On July 6, about 400 U.N. troops with 41 armored
vehicles and helicopters, and several dozen Haitian
police officers, conducted a raid in Cite Soleil,
Haiti's largest slum, to root out gunmen. The slum
harbors a number of gangs, many of them loyal to
"The foreign soldiers came with helicopters and their
war machines and started shooting on everything that
moved. They killed 40 people who carried no weapons,"
said Rene Momplaisir, a spokesman for a pro-Aristide
grass-roots movement in Cite Soleil.
Aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without
Borders) said it treated more than two dozen people
that day, including a pregnant woman who survived
surgery but lost her baby.
'WOUNDED BY GUNSHOTS'
"We received 27 people wounded by gunshots on July 6.
Three quarters were children and women," said Ali
Besnaci, the head of the MSF mission in Haiti. "We had
not received so many wounded in one day for a long
A U.N. military spokesman, Col. Elouafi Boulbars, said
U.N. troops killed five "criminals" during the
operation. But after those bodies were taken away, a
Reuters TV crew filmed seven other bodies of people
killed during the operation, including those of two
one-year-old baby boys and a woman in her 60s.
All seven were killed in a house in the Bois-Neuf area
of Cite Soleil, a territory controlled by one of
Haiti's most wanted gang leaders, Emmanuel "Dread"
Wilme. He is believed to have been killed during the
raid, but U.N. and Haitian officials could not confirm
Dread Wilme's lieutenants and several hundred of his
supporters last Saturday took part in what they called
a funeral ceremony for Wilme. But they refused to
allow reporters to verify whether there was a body in
the buried coffin.
Residents said the number of people killed in that
area on July 6 ranged from 25 to 40.
"I counted 18 bodies, but a friend of mine who lives
on the other side of Bois-Neuf told me he saw seven
bodies. He, too, almost got killed," said Bernard
Desrosier, 24, a resident of Cite Soleil. "It is a
The same day, residents in another slum, Bel-Air,
blamed Haitian police officers wearing black uniforms
for the killing of 12 people.
At least 18 other people were reported killed last
Friday in similar circumstances in the same slum. A
Reuters correspondent saw several of the bodies.
"It is absolute necessary that the security forces
neutralize criminals, but nothing can justify the
murders of innocent people as it is occurring now in
those poor areas," said Hedouville.
U.N. peacekeepers were sent to stabilize the troubled
Caribbean country after Aristide was forced into exile
in February 2004 by a bloody rebellion and under
pressure from the United States and France to quit.
The U.N. mission, now numbering 6,207 soldiers and
1,437 civilian police, has been criticized for failing
to curb violence and disarm both criminal gangs and
former members of Haiti's disbanded army who
participated in the rebellion.
The Haiti Action Committee, a San Francisco-based
activist group, condemned what it called a "massacre"
in Cite Soleil. The group said at least 23 people were
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