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Haiti declares state of emergency after mass escape of prisoners

Since Thursday, armed gangs have attacked strategic locations in the capital, saying they wanted to overthrow Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Cuerpos de seguridad desplegados en Haití / AFP

Security forces deployed in Haiti ( Richard Pierrina/ AFP )

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Haiti has declared a state of emergency and curfew. The government took the measure after an attack on a prison was recorded that left at least a dozen dead and allowed thousands of prisoners to escape.

The curfew will remain in place until at least March 6. The measure could be extended. Economy Minister Patrick Michel Boisvert signed the declaration as the country's acting prime minister.

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti issued a statement stressing that "U.S. citizens in Haiti should depart Haiti as soon as possible by commercial or other privately available transportation options, in light of the current security situation and infrastructure challenges".

"U.S. citizens wishing to depart Port-au-Prince should monitor local news and information on security conditions from commercial transportation providers and should arrange to leave Haiti when security conditions permit doing so," wrote the U.S. Embassy.

'Police were ordered to use all legal means'

Likewise, it was learned that Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in Kenya to sign an agreement to send police from the African country as part of a mission supported by the U.N. to help restore order in the devastated Caribbean country due to gang activity.

"The police were ordered to use all legal means at their disposal to enforce the curfew and apprehend all offenders," the government said in a statement obtained by AFP.

An AFP journalist detailed that "at least a dozen people died during the escape of several thousand inmates from the National Penitentiary of Port-au-Prince, attacked by armed gangs who sought to free the prisoners."

"We counted many prisoners' bodies," Pierre Espérance, executive director of the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH), told AFP on Sunday.

AFP has recorded since Thursday that armed gangs have attacked strategic places in the capital, saying they wanted to overthrow Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has been in power since 2021. They are demanding him to leave office at the beginning of February.