A deadly gun battle between police and therefore the men suspected of assassinating Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse has been raging in Port-au-Prince.
Police chief Léon Charles said four suspects had been killed and two detained but some remained at large and a manhunt was still underway.
“They are going to be killed or captured,” the captain said.
Mr. Moïse, 53, was fatally shot and his wife was injured when attackers stormed their home early Wednesday.
Police chief Charles described dramatic scenes as officers confronted the alleged assassins.
“We blocked [the suspects] on the way as they left the scene of the crime,” he told a press conference. “Since then, we’ve been battling with them.”
Officials say the suspects are well armed and had taken three cops hostage, who have since been freed.
Mr. Charles urged residents to remain indoors for his or her own safety.
The acting prime minister, Claude Joseph, has described Haiti as being “in shock” after the killing of Mr. Moïse.
Heavily armed assassins stormed the president’s range in the hills above Port-au-Prince at around 01:00 civil time (05:00 GMT).
Mr. Moïse was shot multiple times and died at the scene. The president’s body had a complete of 12 bullet wounds, Magistrate Carl Henry Destin told the Novelist newspaper.
He said the president’s office and bedroom were ransacked which he was found lying on his back, covered in blood.
First Lady Martine Moïse was also injured during the attack and has been flown to Florida where she is claimed to be in a critical but stable condition.
The couple’s three children, Jomarlie, Jovenel Jr, and Joverlein, are reported during a “safe location”, officialdom said.
Mr. Destin said that Jomarlie had survived by hiding in her brother’s room, while two domestic staff members had been engaged by the attackers.
What can we realize about the attackers?
Mr. Joseph described the gunmen as “mercenaries” and said that they were “foreigners who spoke English and Spanish”. Haiti’s official languages are Creole and French.
But Haiti’s communications minister has since said that there have been Haitians among the suspects.
Video released after the shooting purports to point out heavily armed men wearing black outside the residence shouting in English: “DEA [US Drug Enforcement Administration] operations, everybody stays down!”
Haiti’s ambassador to the US, Bocchit Edmond, said that while the attackers had disguised themselves as US drugs agents, he believed there was “no way” they really were US agents.
Streets deserted amid fear
The streets of Haiti were deserted after the killing and Haitians mostly heeded the decision by the interim prime minister to stay calm and stay indoors.
Mr. Joseph has declared a two-week state of emergency, which allows for the banning of gatherings and use of the military for police roles, alongside other extensions of executive powers.
The United Nations Security Council has condemned the assassination of Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse, calling on all parties to stay calm and avoid further instability.
World leaders have condemned the killing. Pope Francis said it had been a “heinous murder” and therefore the United Nations Security Council is about to carry a closed-door meeting on the killing on Thursday.
The United Nations also made “an emphatic turn all political stakeholders in Haiti to refrain from any acts of violence or incitement”.
Rocky times and rival claims
Even before President Moïse’s assassination, things in Haiti were marked by instability and there had been widespread protests demanding his resignation.
Parliamentary elections should are held in October 2019 but disputes delayed them, meaning Mr. Moïse had been ruling by decree.
During his four years in office, the president had six prime ministers and on Monday, each day before he was killed, he had nominated a seventh one, Ariel Henry.
But Mr. Henry had not yet been sworn in, leaving his predecessor, Claude Joseph, in charge.
Uncertainty about who should now govern the country is rife.
Mr. Joseph has said he will take hold until elections might be held. But in an interview with Le Nouvelliste newspaper on Wednesday, Mr. Henry insisted that he and not Mr. Joseph was the prime minister.
Haiti’s constitution says the president of the Supreme Court should take over in the event of a presidential vacancy. However, judge René Sylvestre died of Covid-19 weeks ago.
The US said it believed elections should plow ahead this year, to cause a peaceful transfer of power.