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Haiti police block streets, break into airport to protest officer killings


The Haitian flag, photographed through two of the balusters remaining on a balcony of the collapsed National Palace, flies from a pole on the front lawn in Port-au-Prince August 13, 2012. REUTERS/Swoan Parker/File Photo

Haitian police officers on Thursday blocked streets and forced their way into the country’s main airport to protest the recent killing of officers by armed gangs expanding their grip on the Caribbean nation.

Protesters in civilian clothes who identified themselves as police first attacked Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s official residence, according to a Reuters witness, and then flooded the airport as Henry was arriving from a trip to Argentina.

“PM is still at the Airport, unable to leave for now,” said the source, who asked not to be identified.

Haiti’s National Police and the Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One video filmed by local media showed a group of men, some of them wearing shirts with the word “Police” written on them, heatedly arguing with uniformed officers at the airport and then appearing to walk past the officers without struggle.

Roads around Port-au-Prince and in several cities to the north were blocked by protesters.

Last week, four police officers near the capital were killed by the Vitelhomme gang, while shootouts on Wednesday with the Savien gang in the town of Liancourt left another seven officers dead, according to Haiti’s National Police and local media reports.

The United Nations is discussing sending a foreign strike force to confront the criminal groups. The proposal was originally made three months ago but no country has offered to lead such a force.