Haitian police have shot and killed a prominent rebel leader in a gunbattle, the latest in a series of clashes that have pitted police and UN peacekeepers against street gangs.
Police on Saturday killed Remissainthe Ravix during a shootout in an industrial area of Port-au-Prince, UN civilian police spokesman Dan Moskaluk said. He said he did not know whether the former soldier was armed.
Ravix was one of four key leaders of the bloody three-week revolt that led to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ousting on 29 February 2004. Ravix, who often appeared wearing camouflage fatigues, was a sergeant in the Haitian army that Aristide disbanded in 1995.
The shooting broke out as Haitian and UN police were searching for suspects in a shooting on Friday that left a UN civilian employee from India lightly injured, Moskaluk said.
The police saw about 10 armed men fleeing an area in the Delmas neighbourhood in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and chased them into a nearby industrial area, cornering them inside a building, he said.
Haitian police exchanged fire with the men, killing Ravix, Moskaluk said.
Police had been searching for Ravix for weeks, accusing him of killing four police officers on 6 February and orchestrating attacks on police stations last year. He had proclaimed his innocence and had gone into hiding.
Reporters were let into the mortuary at Port-au-Prince's General Hospital, where Ravix's body was put on display, his arms splayed above his head and his white T-shirt soaked in blood.
"We expect that there might be retaliation by the remainder of this group"
Dan Moskaluk, UN police spokesman
Ravix's death could stoke anger among former soldiers who refuse to lay down their weapons and control several rural towns, UN officials said.
"We expect there might be retaliation by the remainder of this group," Moskaluk said.
The 7400-strong UN peacekeeping mission has increasingly confronted ex-soldiers and pro- and anti-Aristide street gangs amid concerns violence could threaten elections in October and November.
Ravix's death comes days before a UN Security Council visit to Haiti to assess conditions. More than 400 people have been killed since September in clashes often involving gangs, ex-soldiers, police and peacekeepers.
After Aristide went into exile in South Africa, Ravix and other ex-soldiers came into increasing conflict with authorities and were criticised by human rights groups for attacks on Aristide supporters.
In October, Ravix was among about 30 armed men who announced they would help control fighting in Port-au-Prince. Holding a sword, Ravix showed a poster with a list of alleged pro-Aristide criminals and declared: "I will arrest all of them."
His death came as gunfire erupted elsewhere during UN peacekeepers' patrols in the slum of Cite Soleil, killing a 15-year-old girl and leaving two other children wounded.
Several UN peacekeepers have
been killed in clashes with gangs
The troops returned fire after being shot at by men who approached them in a crowd, said Lieutenant Colonel Elouafi Boulbars, a spokesman for UN military forces.
The body of Fedia Raphael, 15, lay under a bloodstained sheet in a tin-roofed shack surrounded by children and wailing women. Her mother, Filiame Ateus, said she had sent the girl to get coffee when UN troops opened fire.
"She was walking by," Ateus said. "The UN was driving by, and they shot her." UN officials had no immediate comment.
Elsewhere in the traditional Aristide stronghold, a crowd gathered around a shack where an eight-year-old boy lay on his mother's lap, a bullet wound through his right thigh. Residents said a girl was also grazed by a bullet.