Prime Minister of Haiti Ariel Henry evaded an assassination attempt this past weekend. As reported by the New York Times, Henry was attending an event marking the 218th anniversary of Haitian independence at a church in the city of Gonaïves. His office reported that armed shooters could not hit him as he and his entourage escaped.
“An attempt has been made against me personally. My life has been put in the crosshairs,” Henry said in an interview with Agence France-Presse on Jan. 3.
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His office was unable to confirm the number of persons killed or injured. However, Haitian media spoke of gang involvement.
Henry was sworn in as prime minister barely two weeks after Haitian president Jovenel Moise’s assassination by suspected mercenaries. The legitimacy of Henry’s administration has been challenged since his installation. The country has yet to set a date to elect Moise’s successor.
Haitian gangs have strengthened since the assassination of Moïse in July 2021. Newsonyx reported that increased gang violence precipitated the kidnapping of 17 primarily American missionaries. Haitian police have blamed 400 Mawozo, one of the country’s most prominent and dangerous gangs, for the abduction and subsequent demand for $17 million in ransom. The authorities had previously accused the group when seven priests and nuns were abducted.
Gang violence on the island has surged in recent years and has been attributed to government instability. Suspected misappropriation of funds by government leaders, including slain president Jovenel Moïse, is believed to have caused both police and gang violence to be swept under the rug.
The United States has charged the first suspect in Moise’s assassination. The Colombian commando was taken into custody Monday in Panama and brought to the US to face prosecution.
The prime minister’s office said arrest warrants had been issued for the suspects who fired on Henry’s convoy.