Reuters reports that a French minister was chased out of a Haitian slum under gunfire on Monday, while former soldiers who helped oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide took control of a southern town:
According to Reuters the rebels have no fear of the UN peacekeepers:
The French diplomatic source said the country's junior foreign minister, Renaud Muselier, had to be bustled out of the Cite Soleil slum in Port-au-Prince after his entourage was attacked by rock-throwing youths.
When Haitian police fired into the air, gang members pulled out shotguns, pistols and other weapons and shot at the visitors, who had been planning to visit a hospital in the slum that still seethes with anger over Aristide's departure.
Haiti hasn't seen any improvement since Aristide left. The New York Times reported earlier this month on the ensuing crime wave:
Ex-soldiers from the army Aristide disbanded in 1995 attacked a police station in Petit-Goave, 40 miles south of the capital and proclaimed themselves in charge of security.
A contingent of Brazilian-led U.N. troops, backed by armored cars and helicopters, were sent on Sunday to regain control but withdrew without challenging the former soldiers, who witnesses said numbered around 150.
"We are not afraid of U.N. troops. We are the Haitian military, we are trained to fight wars. They'll probably kill us, but we'll fight," their leader, former army Col. Remissainthe Ravix, told Reuters by telephone.
I know the U.S. military is stretched, but we have got to find enough troops to disarm the bad guys if we hope to give the Haitians a chance. If we fail to disarm the bad guys, a strong man will emerge and the Haitians will have another despot.
The police blame the crime wave on their rivals, the rebel forces who according to nearly all observers freed 186 prisoners from the penitentiary here when they attacked in February. "They were mostly professional criminals; now they are controlling gangs," said Taillefer Ismaille, the ranking police officer at the patched-up city jail on a recent afternoon. "So far we have only recaptured two or three." Commandant Mano denies the accusation, saying the prisoners "let themselves out" after his rebels attacked.