Four “presumed assassins” of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise were shot dead by police and two others were arrested, the state police chief said Wednesday.
Haiti police chief Leon Charles said in a statement that three police officers were taken hostage and subsequently released in an operation.
“Four mercenaries were killed and two were intercepted under our control. Three police officers taken hostage were recovered,” Charles said.
Interim Prime Minister Claude-Joseph confirmed the killings of four 53-year-old Moise murder suspects who were killed in a raid on his home early Wednesday.
The president’s wife, Martine, was also injured in the attack and was reported to be in crisis. She was taken to Miami for treatment, government officials said.
Joseph previously stated that the president had been assassinated in a “highly coordinated attack” by a “highly trained and heavily armed” group.
The killing of the Haiti president occurs in a growing turmoil in a country that has already endured gang violence and political unrest.
Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Bocchi Edmond, said the attack was carried out by “well-trained professional troops” and “foreign mercenaries.”
“They needed a Haitian car to get to the president’s house,” he said.
Edmond refused to comment on the suspects and potential motives, but said they impersonated the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s agent. According to the US Embassy, DEA has an office in the capital of Haiti to support the government with the Drug Enforcement Administration program.
Edmond said Haiti sought help from the US government in their investigation into the assassination led by the Haitian National Police.
Meanwhile, Joseph said in an interview with the Associated Press that he should seek an international investigation into the assassination and hold an election scheduled for later this year. He promised to cooperate as well as Moïse’s allies and enemies.
“Each person is needed to move the country forward,” Joseph said. He hinted at the president’s enemies and described Moïse as “a brave man who opposed some emerging conglomerates in the country.” We believe that these things are not without results.
“I’m shocked and saddened by the horrific assassination,” President Joe Biden said in a statement, accusing him of “evil deeds.”
“The United States condolences to the people of Haiti. We are ready to help keep working for a safe and secure Haiti,” Biden said.
Haiti’s anxiety has intensified in recent months. Elected by a small margin in 2016, Moïse took office in 2017 due to anxiety. Opponents claimed that his term had legally ended in February of this year, but refused to resign, arguing that his term should end later due to his delay in taking office.
The main opposition said it was very disappointed with the killing.
“In this painful situation, opposition politicians are maximally condemning this vicious crime that conflicts with the principles of democracy,” their statement said.
The parties added that they wanted state police to take all necessary steps to protect life and property, and called on Haitians to be “extremely vigilant.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.