Haiti’s new prime minister survives weekend assassination attempt, office says

Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his private residence in Port-au-Prince, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. (AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn).

Gunmen unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry during an event on Saturday commemorating the Caribbean country’s independence, his office said in a statement.

Henry’s office said on Monday that “bandits and terrorists” had tried to shoot the prime minister at a church in the northern city of Gonaives where the ceremony marking the 218th anniversary of independence was taking place.

Video footage broadcast on social media showed Henry and his entourage scrambling toward their vehicles as an armed group began shooting outside the cathedral in Gonaives.

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Haitian media pointed to possible gang involvement in the shooting, which they said killed one person and injured two more.

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Gangs’ hold on parts of Haiti has strengthened since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July.

Police, who called Saturday’s attack the work of “armed groups,” were unable to immediately confirm casualties. Prior to the incident, a local gang boss had made threats against Henry in local media.

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The prime minister’s office said arrest warrants had been issued for the suspects who fired on Henry’s convoy.

The attack has renewed concerns about the safety of officials in Haiti since Moise’s assassination.

Henry, whose administration is facing mounting challenges to its legitimacy, was sworn in as prime minister barely two weeks after Moise’s killing at the hands of suspected mercenaries. The country has yet to set a date to elect Moise’s successor.

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(Reporting by Gessika Thomas; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Bill Berkrot)

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