Mob in Haiti capital burns to death 13 suspected gangsters

Bystanders gather around the bodies of alleged gang members that were set on fire by a mob after they were stopped by police while traveling in a vehicle in the Canape Vert area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)
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Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A mob in the Haitian capital beat and burned 13 suspected gang members to death with gasoline-soaked tires Monday after pulling the men from police custody at a traffic stop, police and witnesses said.

The horrific violence underlined the increasingly lawless situation in Port-au-Prince where criminal gangs have taken control over an estimated 60% of the city since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Haiti National Police said in a brief statement that officers in the city’s Canape Vert section stopped and searched a minibus for contraband, and had confiscated weapons from suspects before they were “unfortunately lynched by members of the population.” The statement did not elaborate on how members of the crowd were able to take control of the suspects.

A witness who gave his name as Edner Samuel told The Associated Press that members of the crowd took the suspected gangsters away from police, beat them and stoned them before putting tires on them, pouring gasoline over them and burning them.

An AP reporter at the scene saw 13 bodies burning in a street. The fires drew hundreds of onlookers in the hilly suburb of the city, many of them shielding their noses from the fumes.

Samuel said the suspects were believed to have been heading to another area to join a group of gang members who were battling police. Another witness, Jean Josue, said there had been a lot of shooting in the area since the early morning.

The situation in the capital remained tense, and shots could be heard ringing out from several neighborhoods.

Witnesses at the scene said the suspects were believed to have been members of the Kraze Barye gang, which translates to “Breaking Barriers.” Authorities say the group is led by Vitel’Homme Innocent, who is accused of helping kidnap 17 U.S. missionaries in October 2021 and also is linked to the assassination of Moïse.