President of Haiti Jovenel Moise at an event in Antalya, Turkey in June 2021.
Four people suspected in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse were killed by police in a gun battle, Haiti’s police chief said Wednesday night at a news conference. Two other suspects were arrested.
Léon Charles, the police chief, also said three officers were freed after being held as hostages.
“The police are engaged in a battle with the assailants,” he said, according to The New York Times. “We are pursuing them so that, in a gunfight, they meet their fate or in gunfight they die, or we apprehend them.”
Haiti’s Communications Secretary Frantz Exantus had said earlier in the day that police arrested the “presumed” assassins, but did not provide any additional details.
Moïse was killed at his home Wednesday at around 1 a.m. local time by a group of armed assailants. The first lady, Martine Moïse, was also injured by gunfire. Reports said their home was located in an upscale suburb of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
Haitian Prime Minister Claude, announced the attack in a statement hat said “a group of unidentified individuals, some of them speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the president of the republic and thus fatally wounded the head of state.” The primary languages spoken in Haiti are Haitian Creole and French.
Claude told The Times he is now leading the country.
World leaders, including President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the attack and offered support to Haiti.
“We’re so sorry for the loss,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psakishe said. “We stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that’s needed.”
The assassination of Moïse was preceded by months of protests calling for his removal. He was unpopular in Haiti, where he served as president since February 2017. The next election was set for September.