In the most recent assault on Haiti’s National Police force, suspected gang members attacked a group of police officers, torching their armored vehicle and killing one officer, according to officials.
The incident took place last Wednesday (May 17) in Source Matelas, a neighborhood north of Port-au-Prince.
The Haitian National Police issued a statement saying, “This criminal act is beyond reprehensible and will not go unpunished,” adding that police would not be intimidated.
In a video that has been making the rounds on social media, the police officer’s body is shown while accused gang members refer to Izo, the “5 Seconds” group’s boss, while one of them poses with the victim.
Gangs are estimated to control up to 80 per cent of the capital and have seized control of communities north of Port-au-Prince that previously were considered safe as they continue to grow more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
According to the United Nations, more than 21 police officers were slain in the first three months of 2023. However, that number has increased as three more police officers were slain in early April.
As the UN head and others push for the quick dispatch of an international military force that Haiti’s prime minister sought in October to quiet gang violence, no one has shown any interest in leading such a force.
AN UNDERSTAFFED POLICE FORCE
With just 13,200 active-duty police officers servicing a population of more than 11 million, Haiti’s National Police is grossly understaffed and underfunded.
The international community has provided police training and equipment including armoured vehicles paid for by Haiti’s government, but several of these have been seized by gangs.