Haiti: US evacuates embassy staff amid gang violence

The United States says it has airlifted non-essential embassy staff from Haiti, as the country spirals further into gang violence.

The Americans have also boosted security at their mission in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

It follows attacks by gangs on the airport, police stations and prisons this week. They are pushing for Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s removal.

A three-day state of emergency has been extended by a month.

“Heightened gang violence in the neighbourhood near US embassy compounds and near the airport led to the State Department’s decision to arrange for the departure of additional embassy personnel,” the embassy posted on social media.

The embassy will remain open, it added.

The pre-dawn operation appeared to be conducted by helicopter, the AFP news agency reports, citing nearby residents who described hearing the sounds of aircraft blades overhead.

Gangs in the violence-wracked city stepped up their attacks when Mr Henry left for a regional summit last week.

Mr Henry attempted to fly back to Port-au-Prince on Tuesday but ended up in the US territory of Puerto Rico instead.

He could not land in the Haitian capital because its international airport was closed as soldiers repelled attempts by gunmen to seize it.

Civil aviation authorities in the neighbouring Dominican Republic also turned the prime minister’s plane away, saying that they had not been provided with the necessary flight plan.

Mr Henry has not given any public statements since he visited Kenya, where he met President William Ruto to salvage a deal for the east African country to lead a multi-national force to help restore order in Haiti.

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