Haiti police try to break blockade of crucial fuel terminal

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s National Police was fighting to remove a powerful gang that has surrounded a key fuel terminal in Port-au-Prince for almost two months, though it was not immediately clear Friday if the economically devastating blockade was fully lifted.

In a voicemail shared with The Associated Press on Friday, Police Chief Frantz Elbé congratulated officers involved in an operation to oust members of the G9 gang federation led by Jimmy Cherizier, a former police officer known as “Barbecue.” The gang had refused to budge as it demanded that Prime Minister Ariel Henry resign.

It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was killed during the gunfire that echoed across the capital on Thursday or whether the gang had been completely cleared from the area.

“We won a fight, but it is not over,” Elbé said.

Spokespeople for police and the office of Prime Minister Ariel Henry did not return messages for comment.

Local radio stations reported that the area where the fuel terminal is located was quiet on Friday.

The lack of fuel has forced gas stations to shut down and prevented hospitals from offering critical services amid a cholera outbreak that has killed dozens and sickened thousands.

The situation alarmed foreign governments, which have sent help for Haiti’s National Police in recent weeks, including armored vehicles to help fight the gangs, which have grown increasingly powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

But foreign governments so far have not met Henry’s Oct. 7 call for foreign troops.

Instead, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution two weeks ago that demanded an immediate end to violence and criminal activity in Haiti and placed sanctions on Cherizier, who faces a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.

In addition, the U.S. Treasury Department on Friday announced sanctions against Haiti’s Senate president and a former senator following allegations they abused their positions to traffic drugs in collaboration with gang networks and directed others to engage in violence.

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