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Hospital director in Haiti says gang stormed in and took hundreds hostage
15 November 2023, 21:14
Gangs across Haiti have continued to grow more powerful since the assassination of president Jovenel Moise in July 2021.
A heavily armed gang has burst into a hospital in Haiti and taken hundreds of women, children and newborns hostage, according to the director of the medical centre who pleaded for help via social media.
Jose Ulysse, founder and director of the Fontaine Hospital Centre in the sprawling Cite Soleil slum in the capital of Port-au-Prince, confirmed the incident in a brief message exchange with the Associated Press.
“We are in great difficulty,” he said.
The hospital is considered an oasis and a lifeline in a community overrun by gangs that have unleashed increasingly violent attacks against each other, with civilians who live in Cite Soleil routinely raped, beaten or killed.
Mr Ulysse identified those responsible as members of the Brooklyn gang, led by Gabriel Jean-Pierre, best known as “Ti Gabriel”. He is also is the leader of a powerful gang alliance known as G-Pep, one of two rival coalitions in Haiti.
The Brooklyn gang has some 200 members and controls certain communities within Cite Soleil including Brooklyn. They are involved in extortion, hijacking of goods and general violence against civilians, according to a recent UN report.
“The G-Pep coalition and its allies strongly reinforced co-operation and diversified their revenues, in particular by committing kidnapping for ransom, which has enabled them to strengthen their fighting capacity,” the report stated.
When the Associated Press visited the Fontaine Hospital Centre earlier this year, Mr Ulysse said in an interview that gangs had targeted him personally twice before.
Gangs across Haiti have continued to grow more powerful since the assassination of president Jovenel Moise in July 2021, and the number of kidnappings and killings keep rising.
Earlier this year, at least 20 armed gang members burst into a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders and snatched a patient from an operating room.
The criminals gained access after faking a life-threatening emergency, the organisation said.