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Haitian police say two men were stabbed to death by mob who thought they were buying ammunition for gangs

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti –

In Haiti, two men were stabbed to death by a crowd who thought they were buying ammunition or firearms for gangs terrorizing the country, police said Saturday.

Police confirmed the mob took the men into custody after they were found with around US$20,000 and the equivalent of around $43,000 in Haitian cash in their car, as well as two pistols and a box of ammunition.

Carrying this amount of money was considered suspicious and locals believed it was a weapons purchase for gangs.

The killings took place on Friday in a town near the provincial town of Mirebalais. Police appeared to fire warning shots into the air to try to prevent the killings, but the crowd 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 Haitians’ anger after months of killings, kidnappings and armed attacks by the country’s gangs.

Over the past month, gangs have targeted key infrastructure in the capital, Port-au-Prince, including police stations, the main international airport which remains closed, and Haiti’s two largest prisons, freeing more than 4 000 prisoners.

On Thursday, William O’Neill, the United Nations human rights expert for Haiti, said the conflict-ravaged Caribbean country now needs 4,000 to 5,000 international police officers to help fight against the “catastrophic” violence of gangs, which target key individuals and hospitals, schools, banks. and other critical institutions.

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

Due to escalating gang violence, so-called “vigilante squads” have taken the law into their own hands, the report says, and “at least 528 cases of lynching were reported in 2023 and another 59 in 2024”.

O’Neill said restoring security is essential and the presence of an international security force on the ground in Haiti is essential and urgent.

Getting a presidential transition council formally installed and active is also “crucial” and “absolutely vital,” O’Neill said, expressing hope that it could happen as soon as next week. Kenyan President William Ruto said he would not deploy police to lead the multinational security operation as planned until he had a Haitian counterpart, the UN expert said.

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

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

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