Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, 53, was assassinated early Wednesday morning after armed shooters stormed his home. Moïse's wife was also injured during the attack.
In a Wednesday statement, Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph confirmed the assassination, calling it a "heinous, inhuman and barbaric act." Joseph added that the gunmen are believed to be "foreigners who spoke English and Spanish." Creole and French are Haiti's official languages.
According to BBC News, Moïse had ruled over Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world, since February 2017. While in office, Moïse faced accusations of corruption and widespread demands for his resignation, including from Haiti's opposition, which argued that Moïse's five-year term should have ended in February 2021. Moïse, however, insisted that he had one more year in office. Political hostilities continued to grow when the October 2019 parliamentary elections were delayed, leading Moïse to rule by decree over Haiti for the last year.
The assassination comes amid an outburst of violence throughout Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital.
CNN reports that thousands of Haitians have fled their homes in Port-au-Prince to escape an onslaught of shootings, arson and criminal actions overtaking the city. In June alone, an estimated 13,600 city residents have been forced out of their homes due to violence and arson attacks on their homes.
Some 95 armed gangs are believed to be carrying out the violent acts. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the armed groups have targeted local police, burned down civilian homes, and even attacked a camp inhabited, in large part, by people with disabilities. Several other high-profile people were also killed during recent violent attacks, including radio journalist Diego Charles and activist Antoinette Duclair, the Haitian government said in a statement.
UNICEF representative based in Port-au-Prince Bruno Maes told CNN that the fighting has largely prevented aid organizations from directly helping the thousands of displaced Haitians, many of whom are seeking refuge in churches and community centers.
In a Wednesday statement, the US Embassy in Haiti implored the Haitian government to bring an end to the violence, writing, "The United States urges the government of Haiti to protect its citizens by countering the proliferation of gangs and by holding the perpetrators of violence and their accomplices accountable."
U.S. Embassy Statement on Insecurity pic.twitter.com/LqgwZsIZsm— U.S. Embassy Haiti (@USEmbassyHaiti) June 30, 2021
This is a developing story.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.