Haiti violence: US announces charter flight as clashes continue

The US State Department has announced a charter flight for its citizens stranded in Haiti, as gang violence and hunger grip the impoverished country.

Police in the capital Port-au-Prince are trying to recapture areas held by notorious gang leader Jimmy Chérizier.

Chérizier, known as “Barbecue”, has a stronghold in the Delmas neighbourhood and police are trying to arrest him.

On Saturday police spokesman Lionel Lazarre said several “bandits” had been killed in the operation.

Mr Lazarre said police units entered the neighbourhood on Friday evening.

In another statement, the police said they fired shots at members of Barbecue’s gang, cleared several roadblocks and seized firearms.

A Haitian source told AFP news agency about another operation on Saturday in which officers tried to regain control of the capital’s main port, which has been shut since 7 March due to growing violence.

The situation for ordinary Haitians remains precarious and dangerous, while many embassies and consulates are airlifting their citizens out.

On Saturday stranded Americans were told by the state department a charter flight would depart from Cap-Haitien, a port city about 120 miles (193km) from Port-au-Prince.

But the state department said only US citizens with valid visas would be allowed to travel and the flight would only go ahead if the situation at Cap-Haitien remained stable.

Last week, Washington airlifted its non-essential embassy staff from Port-au-Prince.

The gangsters and rebels jostling over power in Haiti
Gang leader Barbecue has been one of the most outspoken enemies of Ariel Henry, demanding his resignation ever since the latter was sworn in as prime minister.

Last Tuesday, Mr Henry resigned as prime minister after weeks of mounting pressure and escalating violence.

He had not been allowed back into Haiti after leaving in late January for visits to Guyana and Kenya, where he had signed a deal on the deployment of an international security force to help quell the violence.