By JUHAKENSON BLAISE, The Haitian Times
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Residents of Canapé-Vert, in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, set fire to 14 people they said were armed bandits on their way to bring reinforcements for an active attack on the nearby neighborhoods of Turgeau and Debussy. According to what the inhabitants said, the early Monday immolation took place because local police had failed to stop the gang invasion of the three neighborhoods.
“Since two in the morning we were hearing heavy gunfire. I have also been calling S.O.S.,” said Rebert Noncent, president of Force Canapé-Vert, a neighborhood watch group. “No authority has reacted to find out what was going on.”
“Today I applaud the people of Canape-Vert, and we will continue to fight,” added Noncent. “We also demand reinforcement from the authorities (to help) anyone that suffers from the acts of the bandits.”
During a briefing on Monday, the spokesman for the Haiti National Police (PNH, in Haitian Creole), Garry Desrosiers, confirmed the attack on the bandits in the locality of Debussy. However, Desrosiers did not provide any report on the number of victims or damage caused by the bandits.
The PNH confirms that several police units were deployed in the area and that several suspected bandits were killed in exchanges of fire with police and four firearms were seized.
“Members of the population of this area applauded the determination, the will, and the commitment of the police officers, within the framework of the fight against organized crime in the country,” said the PNH.
The residents’ reaction underscores the desperation many city dwellers feel as Haitian law enforcement faces an unprecedented level of attacks from nearly 200 gangs that have taken over the capital region.
The attacks Monday also followed a massacre that left at least 30 people dead, including eight infants, in Source Matelas that authorities failed to address. Human rights groups have also reported that the bodies of some victims are often left for dogs and that people injured by gunfire are left unable to leave their homes to seek treatment.
Neighborhoods Feel Under Siege
The events that led to the fiery attack on Monday unfolded in the early morning hours, when an unidentified group attacked Debussy, Turgeau, Pacot—all residential neighborhoods in what was once a hilly, tranquil enclave. On local radio, some residents who were fleeing their homes cried out for help, begging the PNH to save them.
A group of men in the gang allegedly stole a public transport minibus to supply more guns in the attack. Because the bandits had stolen the minibus, according to local media reports, the locals forced the armed riders off the vehicle, surrounded them, and stoned them to death. Then they set fire to their lifeless bodies along the streets of the neighborhood.
Videos of the atrocity began circulating on various platforms early Monday.
During the search of the minibus, police said in a note that they confiscated weapons and other materials. The PNH adds that there was an alert launched by the Intelligence and Operations Center, concerning the presence of armed individuals in the Canapé-Vert area and that police did everything possible by establishing road checkpoints.
This news has caused a lot of joy among the Haitian population including the inhabitants of Canapé-Vert.
“These gentlemen died in their work,” one resident told reporters.
“If all the police units meet with the people, we can find the entrenchment of the gangs,” said another resident, who was on-scene painting the bandits’ corpses. “Even if 25 or 40 of us die, we have to do something with the bandits to save the country.”