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World’s most dangerous city ‘under siege’ as gangs litter streets with bodies

THE world’s most dangerous city is “under siege” as gangs take control over and litter the streets with dead bodies.

Haiti’s picturesque capital Port-au-Prince has turned into a bloody warzone following days of gang-led attacks and violence by thugs.

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Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince is burning amid extreme violence inflicted by criminal gangsCredit: Reuters
The streets have turned into a bloody warzone

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The streets have turned into a bloody warzoneCredit: Reuters
A thug holds up a Haitian flag during protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry

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A thug holds up a Haitian flag during protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel HenryCredit: AP
Widespread destruction paints the picture of the city

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Widespread destruction paints the picture of the cityCredit: Reuters
Thugs have been setting government buildings alight and burning down police stations

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Thugs have been setting government buildings alight and burning down police stationsCredit: AP
Charred vehicles remain parked as gang violence escalates in Port-au-Prince

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Charred vehicles remain parked as gang violence escalates in Port-au-PrinceCredit: AFP
Police are battling to control the spiralling gang-led violence

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Police are battling to control the spiralling gang-led violenceCredit: Reuters
The vicious gang lord Jimmy 'Barbecue' Chérizier has claimed responsibility for the attacks

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The vicious gang lord Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Chérizier has claimed responsibility for the attacksCredit: Reuters

In a bid to topple the government and oust the country’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry, criminal groups controlling much of the area have unleashed havoc in recent days.

Thugs have been setting government buildings alight and burning down police stations.

Charred vehicles and destruction paint the picture of the capital’s streets.

Bodies are piling up on the streets at an “unprecedented” level as gun battles between armed gangs and the county’s police gripped the capital.

Overwhelmed and outgunned by these attacks, Haiti’s police, barely 9,000 in strength, are unable to take control of things.

Lyonel Milfort, one of the morgue directors, shared chilling details about the downward spiral of the violence.

“What I’m witnessing today is unprecedented. It’s been too long. It’s heartbreaking to go around and see bodies being eaten by dogs and see the corpses covered with sheets,” he told the Washington Post.

Milfort said people have been endlessly calling him to collect dead bodies from the streets but has been unable to do so due to the ongoing clashes.

As the violence between gangs and police escalates, civilians have been caught in the crosshairs.

More than 360,000 Haitians – half of them being children – have so far been internally displaced as a result of the bloody violence, the International Organization for Migration reports.

Philippe Branchat, IOM’s chief in Haiti, said in a statement: “People living in the capital are locked in, they have nowhere to go.

“The capital is surrounded by armed groups and danger. It is a city under siege.”

Haiti’s capital has witnessed a long history of violence led by thugs and warlords.

Over 200 merciless armed gangs rule over up to 80 per cent of Haiti’s capital inflicting terror, sexual violence, torture and lawlessness.

For over two years, warring factions have torn the city apart and turned every day into a fight for survival.

But the latest outbreak of violence that started two weeks ago has seen unprecedented levels of attacks from armed gangs amid calls for the prime minister’s resignation.

What I’m witnessing today is unprecedented. It’s heartbreaking to go around and see bodies being eaten by dogs and see the corpses covered with sheets

Lyonel Milfortmorgue director

Amid the capital-wide unrest, the attack on the National Penitentiary last week plunged Haiti into further chaos.

A deadly gang assault on the capital’s main prison saw nearly 4,000 inmates freed, leaving the normally overcrowded jail eerily empty Sunday with no guards in sight.

Among those who were jailed in the prison were gang members charged in connection with the 2021 killing of President Jovenel Moïse.

Dozens of people have been killed since the mass jailbreak as gangs stepped up coordinated attacks on state institutions, including the country’s international airport and the national soccer stadium.

A 72-hour state of emergency began last Sunday night as the government vowed to find the killers, kidnappers and other violent criminals who escaped en masse from jail.

Haiti’s government said security forces had “received orders to use all legal means at their disposal to enforce the curfew and detain those who violate it.”

The emergency decree was issued after what authorities called the “massacre” over the weekend that marked a new low in the crisis-wreaked Caribbean nation’s downward spiral of violence.

However, one man in particular has been at the heart of the chaos who claimed responsibility for the surge in attacks.

Jimmy Chérizier, a former elite police officer known as Barbecue is calling for coordinated attacks to oust Prime Minister and police chief Ariel Henry, who is currently abroad.

The cop-turned-warlord is rumoured to have earned his nickname for setting his victims on fire and has led massacres inside the poorest areas of the city.

“All of us, the armed groups in the provincial towns and the armed groups in the capital, are united,” said Barbecue, calling for a systematic overthrow of the current government.

After PM Ariel Henry flew to Kenya to push for the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force to help fight the gangs, a fresh wave of violence began.

Stranded in Puerto Rico, Henry has been unable to regain power over the Caribbean nation, leaving the streets of Port-au-Prince to become more dangerous than ever.

Warlords are calling for coordinated attacks to oust Prime Minister

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Warlords are calling for coordinated attacks to oust Prime MinisterCredit: Reuters
Residents leaving their homes as the gang violence escalates

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Residents leaving their homes as the gang violence escalatesCredit: AFP
People carrying belongings as they flee their homes

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People carrying belongings as they flee their homesCredit: Reuters

Warlords taking charge

Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation, has been in turmoil for years.

The crisis-ridden country was plunged into further chaos due to the assassination of President Jovenal Moïse in July 2021.

No elections have taken place since 2016 and the presidency remains vacant.

With no functioning government, a power vacuum has trailed in its wake – ready to be exploited by gangs.

Acting PM Ariel Henry was due to stand down on February 7, however, planned elections were not held and he has remained in post.

In response, riots have been constant and gangs have been ramping up increasingly coordinated attacks on bolder targets.

Last year, the UN said more than 8,400 people were victims of gang violence last year, which included killings, kidnappings, and sexual violence double the numbers seen in 2022.

Their violence and power have been multiplied by the gangs organising themselves into fierce territorial coalitions, the largest of which are the G-9 and G-Pèp.

Renata Segura, International Crisis Group’s deputy director for Latin America and the Caribbean, previously told The Sun Online: “There is a big question mark about what’s going to happen when you leave your house every morning.”

It’s a city, she said, where ordinary people are used as “human shields”, murdered, extorted, their businesses looted, their homes burned.

“Children could be hit by a stray bullet when they’re on their way to school.”

After gangs opened fire at Haiti’s international airport last week, the US Embassy said it was halting all official travel to the country and on Sunday night urged all American citizens to depart as soon as possible.

The Biden administration said it was monitoring the rapidly deteriorating security situation with grave concern.

The entire city has been burning amid the civil crisis

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The entire city has been burning amid the civil crisisCredit: Reuters
An injured man waiting to be treated at a health centre

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An injured man waiting to be treated at a health centreCredit: EPA
Two men carrying a coffin down a street in Port-au-Prince

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Two men carrying a coffin down a street in Port-au-PrinceCredit: EPA

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