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Two men hacked to death by mob in Haiti who thought they were buying ammo for gangs

Two men in Haiti were hacked to death by a mob who thought they were buying ammunition or guns for gangs that have terrorized the country, police said Saturday.

Police confirmed the crowd snatched the men from police custody after they were found with about $20,000 and the equivalent of about $43,000 in Haitian cash in their car, along with two pistols and a box of ammunition.

Carrying that amount of cash was considered suspicious, and residents assumed it was a weapons purchase for the gangs.

The killings happened on Friday in a town near the provincial city of Mirebalais. Police appeared to fire warning shots into the air to try to prevent the killings, but the mob killed them anyway. One of the victims was a police officer, and the other was a former guard, according to their identification documents.

The killings underscored how outnumbered police are in Haiti, and the anger of Haitians after months of killings, kidnappings and armed attacks by the country’s gangs.

In the last month, gangs have been targeting key infrastructure across the capital, Port-au-Prince, including police stations, the main international airport that remains closed and Haiti’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

On Thursday, William O’Neill, the U.N. rights expert for Haiti, said the conflict-wracked Caribbean nation now needs between 4,000 and 5,000 international police to help tackle “catastrophic” gang violence, which is targeting key individuals and hospitals, schools, banks and other critical institutions.

In 2023, the number of people killed and injured as a result of gang violence increased significantly, with 4,451 killed and 1,668 injured, O’Neill’s report said. This year, as of March 22, the numbers continue to climb, with 1,554 killed and 826 injured.

As a result of the escalating gang violence, so-called “self-defense brigades” have taken justice into their own hands, the report said, and “at least 528 cases of lynching were reported in 2023 and a further 59 in 2024.”

O’Neill said re-establishing security is key and getting the international security force on the ground in Haiti is critical and urgent.

Getting a transitional presidential council officially installed and active is also “crucial” and “absolutely vital,” O’Neill said, expressing hope this could happen as soon as next week. Kenya’s President William Ruto has said he won’t deploy police to lead the multinational security operation as planned until he has a Haitian counterpart, the U.N. expert said.

O’Neill said the trust fund to finance the international police operation also desperately needs funding.

Haiti asked for an international force to combat gangs in October 2022, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for a force last July, he said.


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