PORT-AU-PRINCE — Hundreds of mourners packed the National Police Academy (ENP) school Jan. 31 to lay to rest three of four police officers killed in an ambush last week.

Gérald Occinal, 30th promotion, Duckens Céjuste, 24th promotion and Luc Eliezer, 20th promotion, are among 15 killed in Haiti since the year started. Another officer, Wilkenn Staniclas, 20th promotion, is missing, according to the National Police of Haiti (PNH).

At their service, several police officers wept over their slain colleagues vowed not to return to the Pétion-Ville precinct and blamed their police chief for the slayings. Families, supporters and other loved ones also mourned the dead, unable to hide their suffering.

“You are the first child of my mother and father,” one mourner cried out. “Today, you leave and say nothing. I talked to you on Thursday when you came from work. Every Friday I call you, you don’t answer and you die. You died.” 

One mother, 60, broke down when she entered the funeral room and saw her son in a coffin.

“So it’s true? How can I believe it? This is the last time I see my child,” she repeated over and over, tears streaming down her face.

Others remained silent, their faces serious and eyes teary.

“This situation must stop,” said one man who came to support the family of one of the victims. “They have shed too much blood and destroyed the lives of too many people. We must put an end to this situation.”

The police officers were killed Jan. 20 in a confrontation with armed bandits around Pétion-Ville, according to residents. Local residents speaking on radio said armed bandits — reportedly from a gang led by Vitélhomme Innocent — invaded these localities of It took place in the communes of Bellevue La Montagne, Greffin, Duvier and Fort-Jacques, François and Dontè, killed several people and burnt down many homes. 

The attack, they said, was perpetrated under the pretext of avenging the death of a gang ally whose body was set on fire several months ago.

Police responded, and heavy gunfire was heard very late throughout the area. When it was over, a SWAT team unit of the PNH recovered the bodies of three police officers at the scene. A fourth, Guillaume Pascal, was taken to hospital.

In a Jan. 21 note, PNH authorities denounced the deadly attack.

The National Union of Haitian Police Officers, SYNAPOHA, is calling for an investigation in the case of the killings of the officers.

Funeral of the six slain police officers Credit: Marvens Compere

On Jan. 25, six PNH officers were killed in Liancourt by armed bandits. Another one is injured.

The next morning, both PNH officers killings several cities awoke under high tension. Both uniformed and plainclothes law enforcement officers staged protests and stormed the official residence of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Among other things, they are calling for a change in management. Surveillance cameras, windows and windshields of vehicles were damaged, among other things. They then left the scene.

Protesters also went to the vicinity of Toussaint Louverture International Airport to prevent access to the Prime Minister, who was to return to the country today from a trip to Argentina.

Barricades of burning tires, cars parked across the road, heavy gunfire, police coming and going from place to place on motorcycles, police officers supported by the population mobilized in several neighborhoods as part of their protest movement. Police officers reportedly entered several bars in the capital and chased away the customers.

In Cap- Haitien, Gonaïves and Saint Marc residents and police officers also protested the frequent killings of police officers. In fury, people moved in crowds towards the premises of the DDA /PNH in the City of Independence. 

In the cities of Saint Marc and Cap-Haitien local radio reported that individuals identifying themselves as police officers continued the protests that began last Thursday, following the killings of the officers.

Operation Tornado announced 

On Jan. 27, in response to protests by police officers, Frantz Elbé, head of the Haitian National Police (PNH), announced Operation Tornado 1. The campaign aims to wage war on armed bandits. 

Elbé also said a specialized unit was being transferred to the Pernier station to combat rising violence there.

Two days later, a gang destroyed a police station in Pernier – another neighborhood of Pétion-Ville – using a construction vehicle called a loader. Officials blame Bandits allegedly with the gang led by Vitelhomme Innocent.

Murdith Joseph is a social worker and journalist. She studied at the State University of Haiti and Maurice Communication. She first worked as a journalist presenter and reporter for Radio Sans Fin (RSF) then as a journalist reporter for Radio tele pacific and writting for the daily Le National. Today she joined the Haitian Times team and covers the news in Port-Au-Prince-Haiti.

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