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26599: (news) Chamberlain: U.N. takes over violent Haiti slum after ... (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov 16 (Reuters) - U.N. troops on Wednesday took
control of a Port-au-Prince slum where four people were killed in clashes
between U.N. peacekeepers and criminal gangs, U.N. officials said.
Troops have established a permanent presence and around-the-clock
patrols in the slum of Cite Militaire, near the downtown area of the
capital, in an effort to quell violence by criminal gangs, said Lt. Col.
Jorge Smicelato, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
The measure was taken a day after gunmen opened fire on a U.N. patrol
in the area, which has been controlled by armed gangs for months. Four
people, described by authorities as "bandits," were killed on Tuesday when
U.N. troops returned fire.
"From now on, our troops are going to station here and conduct patrols
24 hours a day to bring back peace and security here," said Smicelato, who
is with the Brazilian contingent.
"Now the situation is calm. We registered absolutely no incidents. Our
troops are there and will stay there," he said.
Hundreds of people have died in political and gang violence since
Haiti's last elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was forced from
office in February 2004. A U.N. peacekeeping mission, now comprised of some
8,000 troops and police, was sent to the poor Caribbean nation to restore
Haiti is struggling to organize elections to choose a new president
and legislature to replace an interim government appointed after Aristide's
Stephan Lacroix, a spokesman for the electoral council, said on
Wednesday that the council would like the presidential elections to be held
on Dec. 27, with a possible run-off on Jan. 31. The elections had been
scheduled for Nov. 20, but violence, lack of security and general chaos
have caused delays.
Several killings and kidnappings have occurred in the past few months
in Cite Militaire, which has been a refuge for gangs forced to flee other
areas where Haitian police and U.N. troop patrols have been more effective.