Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Witnesses say 2 civilians killed in Haiti clash with U.N. troops

By STEVENSON JACOBS, Associated Press Writer
October 20, 2006

A gunbattle broke out Thursday between U.N. troops and gunmen after peacekeepers bulldozed debris from a road in a volatile slum, and witnesses said at least two civilians were killed.

U.N. military spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Neuzivaldo Dos Anjos said peacekeepers removed old car frames and part of a wall lining a road in Cite Soleil, a vast slum on the edge of Haiti’s capital and a base for well-armed gangs.

Dos Anjos said they were trying to clear debris to allow vehicle traffic on the road, which runs behind the main U.N. military base in the slum.

“While we were doing that we received gun shots and exchanged fire in self defense. No one was injured from our side and I do not have any information as to injuries on the aggressors’ side,” he said.

But residents said U.N. personnel razed at least one abandoned cinderblock home, sending people in nearby homes fleeing for safety.

Residents said they threw rocks at peacekeepers and accused them of opening fire, killing two men.

“I was inside my house when they (peacekeepers) started breaking things apart,” said Naomi Exint, 24, who said part of her house was destroyed.

Dos Anjos said no homes were destroyed.

Weeping relatives screamed and fainted as emergency workers used a stretcher to carry off one man’s body, which was covered by a blood- soaked white sheet. They said he was buying food at a market when he was shot.

The violence shattered a shaky calm that had prevailed in the area for weeks and added to residents’ anger at an 8,800-strong U.N. force sent to restore order after armed rebels forced former president Jean- Bertrand Aristide from power in 2004.

The seaside slum, populated by rows of scrap-metal shacks and rutted dirt streets, is home to an estimated 300,000 people.

In a goodwill tour earlier this month, Haitian police entered Cite Soleil for the first time in nearly three years, shaking hands with residents and announcing plans to replace a base that was destroyed during the revolt.

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