Port Au Prince, Haiti – Police say a judicial investigation has been launched into a church organised protest march in Canaan last Saturday that left at least seven people dead and several others injured or kidnapped after gunmen fired upon them.
The acting Director General of the National Police of Haiti (PNH), Frantz Elbé, said that the authorities had been unsuccessful in preventing the march taking place last Saturday, but had taken measures by establishing security perimeters to prevent the demonstrators from reaching their destination.
The parishioners, some armed with machetes, were marching through a suburb of the capital, Port-au-Prince, when the members of the gang, believed to be those in control of the suburb of Canaan, fired upon them with machine guns.
Elbé said the crowd was headed by the religious leader, Marcorel Zidor, alias “Pastor Marco” and dressed in jerseys with a logo bearing his name.
He said others armed with assault rifles wearing olive green uniforms staged a protest without notifying the National Police and that “this crowd would have had the objective of going to dislodge the members of gangs based in Canaan”.
The suburb of Canaan, which was founded by survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake, is controlled by a gang led by a man identified only as “Jeff”, who is believed to be allied with the 5 Segonn “5 Seconds” gang.
Elbé said that once the police were informed of the situation they sought to convince the organisers not to continue “on this enterprise to avoid carnage on the part of bandits who have an arsenal of war.
“However, the protesters bypassed the security arrangements that were established by law enforcement, and still arrived at the desired areas to confront the said gang members,” he said.
He confirmed that several parishioners had been killed by bullets, several injured and some worshipers kidnapped.
“The National Police condemns this ‘regrettable’ tragedy and offers its sympathy to the families and loved ones of the victims.
“In addition, the PNH would like to inform the general public that a judicial investigation has already been opened at the Central Directorate of Judicial Police (DCPJ), with a view to determining the responsibilities of all the actors in this case so that such irrational acts do not happen again,” Elbé said.
Haiti has been thrown into turmoil since the July 7, 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, with the interim government of Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry urging the international community to send in a multi-national force to maintain peace and security in the country. (CMC)