Aristide supporters held
REBELS who over-ran Haiti’s second-largest city began detaining people identified as supporters of the president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, yesterday, and said they would soon attack Haiti’s capital.In Cap-Haitien, where rebels celebrated their biggest victory on Sunday, a rampage of looting continued as they detained supposed Aristide militants.
"I am a brick mason, I didn’t do anything wrong," Jean-Bernard Prevalis, 33, pleaded as he was dragged away, head bleeding. Residents claimed he was an Aristide activist and a drug trafficker.
"We’re going to clean the city of all chimere," said rebel Dieusauver Magustin, 26, using the Creole word for "ghosts" to describe pro-government militants.
It was not clear what would happen to those detained. One rebel said they were saving them from lynching. Another, Claudy Philippe, said: "The people show us the chimere houses. If they are there, we execute them."
Thousands of people were in the streets to continue a looting rampage that began on Sunday, when the rebel leader, Guy Philippe, predicted a quick victory over Mr Aristide’s partisans.
"I think that in less than 15 days, we will control all of Haiti," Mr Philippe said.
Sunday’s victory means more than half of Haiti is now beyond the control of the central government. Sources close to the government said several cabinet ministers in Port-au-Prince were asking friends for places to hide in case the capital is attacked.
Yesterday, France urged its citizens to leave Haiti. The United States told its citizens to get out on Thursday, and Mexico issued a similar warning on Saturday.
There are about 30,000 foreigners in Haiti, including about 20,000 Americans, 2,000 French and 1,000 Canadians.
The French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, reiterated that France was ready to help end the chaos by contributing to a multinational intervention force. "We are ready to give our assistance as long as the international community is mobilised and in agreement, as long as the United Nations gives a mandate," he said.
But he added: "We are unfortunately not yet at this stage."
The takeover of Cap-Haitien by only 200 fighters was the most significant victory since the popular uprising began on 5 February. At least 15 were killed in Sunday’s fighting.
In a two-pronged rebel assault, rebels quickly engulfed key points in Cap-Haitien, leaving many in ashes. The police station was burned, then looted, as was a pro-Aristide radio station. Thousands of city residents rushed to the city’s port and carried away goods on hand-carts.
In a clear sign of the decreasing security in the country, western diplomats said yesterday that 50 US marines were on their way to Port-au-Prince to secure the US embassy and its staff.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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