Gang members in Port-au-Prince opened fire on parishioners at an evangelical church marching to protest criminal mayhem in their district, Haitian police said Monday.
The death toll from Saturday’s attack, the latest burst of violence from gangs that control most of the city, remained unknown.
The march was organized by Pastor Marco Zidor, leader of the Piscine de Bethesda evangelical church. Zidor had gathered his followers, some carrying machetes or sticks, to march toward the area held by members of the Canaan gang in the north of the capital.
However, presumed gang members opened fire with automatic weapons as the crowd arrived. Videos broadcast by the gang show numerous corpses strewn about.
An official from the Piscine de Bethesda church said he was “not in a position to give any information at the moment.”
Haitian National Police on Monday condemned a “regrettable tragedy,” saying its forces had tried to avoid a bloodbath.
Kenya to send its officers to Haiti
In July 2023, Kenya announced that it was prepared to deploy 1,000 police agents to help train and support their Haitian counterparts in combating the violent gangs that have taken control of much of the capital.
“Kenya has accepted to positively consider leading a Multi-National Force to Haiti. Kenya’s commitment is to deploy a contingent of 1,000 police officers to help train and assist Haitian police restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations,” Foreign Affairs CS Alfred Mutua said in a statement.
A Kenyan-led deployment would still require a mandate from the United Nations Security Council, as well as formal agreement by local authorities.