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Haitians protest gang leader's murder
( 2003-09-28 10:39) (Agencies)

Tire barricades burned for a fifth straight day Saturday as hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the killing of a gang leader once seen as loyal to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The bullet-riddled body of Amiot Metayer, leader of a street gang called Cannibal Army, was found Monday on a country road in the town of St. Marc. His killing sparked protests that have killed one and wounded 15.

It remained unclear who fired the shots. Metayer's followers accuse the government of having a hand in the killing, saying he had damaging information against Aristide.

The about-face in the attitudes of Metayer's supporters signals a growing rift between the Caribbean country's president and poor street activists who have been a key source of Aristide's support.

Schools and public buildings have been closed since Tuesday and many remained indoors because of the violence in the town, about 70 miles northwest of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.

Saturday's protest was shorter and calmer compared to the previous four days. No injuries were reported. Police did not fire tear gas to disperse the crowd as they had done previously.

Businesses in the northwestern port town of Gonaives opened for the first time since the demonstrations began Tuesday, allowing residents to buy food and supplies.

Metayar's gang wanted Aristide's administration to be replaced by an interim government, and sought new elections and higher wages for police and other state workers. Government officials reject the demands.

Some residents viewed Metayer as a hoodlum, whose gang terrorized government opponents and rivals. But others viewed him as a Robin Hood who lavished them with gifts.

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