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Moise update: Haiti officials seek masterminds after ‘suspected assassins’ detained


Moise update: Haiti officials seek masterminds after ‘suspected assassins’ detained
UNICEF said it was deeply concerned that further violence and insecurity following the assassination could pose serious challenges to the humanitarian work of its teams on the ground. (Reuters)

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Port-au-Prince – Police in Haiti have killed or arrested the gunmen suspected of murdering President Jovenel Moïse, but say they are still hunting the masterminds.

At least four gunmen have been killed and six more detained, including, reportedly, a United States citizen.

People were urged to stay calm after they burned cars and seized two “foreigners” who they handed to police.

The interim PM has told the BBC that Moïse may have been killed because he was fighting “oligarchs” in Haiti.

The president was shot dead at his home in the early hours of Wednesday. His wife, Martine, was seriously injured and has been flown to Florida for hospital treatment.

The acting prime minister, Claude Joseph, told the BBC “foreign mercenaries” had carried out the attack. Early reports said the attackers spoke English and Spanish – the Haitian official languages are French and Creole.

Joseph said that Moïse had been “fighting against some oligarchs in the country. We don’t know if there is a link between those oligarchs and the foreign mercenaries”.

Moïse, 53, was deeply unpopular with many Haitians, and had many political opponents. The impoverished nation has also been plagued by gang warfare.

At a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, police chief Léon Charles confirmed that six suspects had been detained, adding: “We have the physical perpetrators in hand and we are looking for the instigators.”

He earlier said police had “blocked [the suspects] en route as they left the scene of the crime”, killing four.

Although the streets had remained fairly calm in the immediate aftermath of the assassination, the suspected involvement of foreigners has increased anger among the public.

Charles urged residents to remain calm and co-operate with the police, after a crowd had gathered outside a police station in the capital Port-au-Prince where suspects were being detained.

Dozens of Haitians earlier seized two men who they suspected of being involved in the shooting. Video footage showed the pair, who appeared to have suffered injuries, being driven away by armed officers in a pick-up.

The US citizen arrested was of Haitian descent, the elections minister, Mathias Pierre, said.

The US state department said it could not confirm if a US citizen had been held.