Haitian police kill prominent gang leader
Haitian police on Sunday killed a prominent gang leader who had waged war against the police, a day after a leading rebel was killed in a shoot-out with security forces, police and officials from the U.N. peacekeeping force said.
Jean Anthony Rene, known as Grenn Sonnen, and several of his supporters were killed in a gun fight with police in the Delmas district of the capital, Port-au-Prince, said senior police officer Renan Etienne.
A spokesman for the civilian police element of a 7,400-strong U.N. peacekeeping force, Daniel Moskaluk, said U.N. peacekeepers were also involved in the operation, and Sonnen and five armed suspects were killed.
"We surrounded him. He had three Galils (assault rifles) slung across his shoulders, and he fell while exchanging fire with the police," said Etienne, the central director for the administrative police.
"We will continue to hunt all armed bandits who want to defy the law," Etienne told Reuters.
In the same area of the capital on Saturday, police backed by U.N. peacekeepers killed prominent rebel Remissainthe Ravix, along with two other ex-soldiers during a shoot-out, officials said.
Ravix, a former member of Haiti's disbanded army, was one of the leaders of a revolt that forced ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile in February last year and had fallen out with the interim government that took over.
He had been wanted by police in connection with the killing of four police officers in February.
Sonnen was also a former member of the army and had been an ally of the rebels.
A senior officer of the U.N. peacekeeping force, which was deployed to help stabilize the troubled and impoverished Caribbean country after Aristide's ouster, said the weekend police operations were a step toward restoring order.
"We don't wish to celebrate the death of anybody, but this is good news for efforts to stabilize the country," said Commander Carlos Chagas, referring to Sonnen's death.
"Successful efforts to neutralize illegal armed groups can only help improve the security situation," Chagas told Reuters.
Some 6,000 U.N. peacekeeping troops and 1,400 U.N. police are in Haiti to help stabilize the country ahead of elections later this year, but unrest has simmered since Aristide was ousted.
Some of the violence has been triggered by anger at his departure among the former president's followers but the authorities have also tried to rein in the power of rebels such as Ravix.
Relations with Ravix and other members of the ex-military soured over rebel demands for the reinstatement of the army, which was disbanded by Aristide in 1995 during his first presidency.