Four gunmen were neutralized by police on Wednesday in a stunning assassination at the residence of the Haitian president. At the time of this writing, many details like the motivation for the attack, the identities of the perpetrators, and the events that led up to the assassination are currently unknown.
Police say the assassination was carried out by suspects that have been identified by Haitian authorities as “mercenaries.” Four gunmen were reportedly neutralized with lethal force in a hostage situation that followed the attack on the president. Three police officers being held hostage by the perpetrators were freed after the gunmen were neutralized, according to a press release from Léon Charles, the Haitian police chief.
The Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, was killed by assassins in his home early in the day on Wednesday. Moïse suspended the scheduled elections last year, leading to accusations that he was ruling by decree and was an unlawful leader. His wife, Martine, was injured in the attack and has been transported to Miami to undergo treatment.
According to the Haitian ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, the attackers posed as US Drug Enforcement Agency agents to gain entry into Moïse’s residence. Edmond echoed Charles’s assertion that the gunmen were mercenaries, and alleged that they spoke English, which could indicate they were foreigners.
The police chief, Charles, also stated that the police have made two arrests of suspects in the case. The country swiftly entered a “state of siege” following the attack on Moïse. Claude Joseph, the acting prime minister of Haiti, is now overseeing the country in its current state of martial law. Some experts have suggested, however, that Joseph doesn’t have the authority to issue a state of siege, as only the country’s Parliament can make such a decision.
The attack also drew condemnation from world leaders. United States President Joe Biden stated “We condemn this heinous act,” noting that the US also needed to know more information, including the motivation of the attackers and their origins.
“We stand ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti.”
There is also confusion in Haiti as to who should actually be prime minister. On Monday, just two days before the attack, Moïse appointed Ariel Henry to be the new PM, while Joseph swiftly took that role himself. Henry has stated in radio interviews that he and Joseph are not at odds with one another, but he expressed a desire for “maturity” and “serenity” in the trying moment.