Haitian interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has appealed for calm after President Jovenel Moïse was shot dead overnight in an attack at his private residence.
In a statement Wednesday, Joseph said an unidentified group of people who attacked the president’s private residence, located in a suburb of the capital, Port-au-Prince, were responsible for the killing, which he called a “hateful, inhuman and barbaric act.”
Joseph described the attackers as “foreigners” during an interview with a Port-au-Prince radio station Wednesday morning and said some group members spoke in Spanish.
He also said Moïse’s wife, Martine, was injured and taken to a hospital for treatment.
“The president’s wife is alive and is being treated,” Joseph confirmed to local radio station Magik 9.
Joseph said the national police force is in control of the situation now and that measures have been taken to “protect the nation.” He vowed to ensure the continuity of government adding that “we are a democracy.”
Joseph said he had met with officials of the National Police Force and that he plans to address the nation later today.
The U.S. is “assessing” the attack and U.S. President Joe Biden will be briefed on the situation in Haiti, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told MSNBC.
Haiti has been experiencing political instability and division as well as a rise in gang violence.
Last week in Port-au-Prince, gang leader Jimmy Cherisier, who is known by the nickname Barbeque, took to the streets to protest Moise’s government, calling on him to resign.
“Jovenel (Moise) must go!” Cherisier told reporters during the protest. “A new group of people needs to lead this country and we must sit together around a table, have a national dialogue so we can redefine this country.”
Sandra Lemaire in Washington and Matiado Vilme in Port-au-Prince contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press, AFP and Reuters