Haiti rights groups: at least seven dead after gang clashes with church group protesters News
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Haiti rights groups: at least seven dead after gang clashes with church group protesters

Haitian rights groups Center of Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) and Fondasyon Je Klere reported to media Saturday that at least seven people were killed following a gang attack against a local protest organized by a church leader. The groups claim that the gang fired into the crowds with machine guns in Canaan, a town outside the capital Port-au-Prince.

According to statements made by CARDH director Gédéon Jean to the press, the final number of victims will likely be higher, given that reports have claimed that ten others were wounded and some churchgoers were kidnapped.

The protest was organized in response to the recent rise in gang violence in the region. Earlier this month, a UN spokesperson called for action in Haiti, given the rise of lynchings in the region, both of gang members and of vigilante group members that oppose the gangs. Since the beginning of the year, the region has seen at least 2,439 killings, 902 injuries and 951 kidnappings.

Local press has reported on these killings, which they described as a ‘predictable massacre’, given the tension between gangs in the area, under a boss known only as ‘Jeff’, and followers of Pastor Marcorel Zidor, also known as ‘Pastor Marco’.

Much of the reporting around this attack has been carried out through platforms such as X (formerly Twitter), with Haiti24 noting, “Videos that have gone viral on social media show lifeless bodies and expose unprecedented cruelty by bandits who purposely filmed the carnage to confirm the failure of the protest.”

Jean placed blame with Pastor Marco, who chose to confront the gang members with his own parishioners, saying he “engaged a group of people and put them in a situation like this.” Jean believes that people armed only with machetes were no match for Jeff’s army of rifle-carrying gang members.