Oct 20, 2006
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) – At least three people were killed in Haiti’s largest and most dangerous slum on Thursday when a protest over the alleged destruction of homes by U.N. peacekeepers turned violent, witnesses said.
Residents of Cite Soleil — a teeming warren of shantytowns on the southern tip of Port-au-Prince — said the victims were shot dead by Brazilian peacekeepers.
The shootings came after angry protesters confronted the U.N. troops and accused them of razing homes to make way for a road, according to the witnesses, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, said she was unable to say whether anyone was killed or wounded during the clash.
But she said U.N. peacekeepers had only been trying to break down a number of low-lying walls, to open up access to a paved road, when they returned fire after coming under attack from one of Cite Soleil’s notorious armed gangs.
A Reuters’ reporter saw the body of a middle-aged man killed during the clash, but was unable to confirm other deaths or witness claims that at least three children were injured.
Marc Evans Jean, one eyewitness, said someone had tried to hurl a Molotov cocktail at the peacekeepers but insisted no gunshots were fired at them.
Several armed groups in the impoverished Caribbean nation are believed to be loyal to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was forced from power in February 2004 by an armed rebellion and pressure from the United States and France. U.N. peacekeepers were deployed four months later to stabilise the country.