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US and Colombia send troops to Haiti after president’s assassination, as more details of suspects emerge

Written by on 10/07/2021

The US and Colombia are sending troops to Haiti following the assassination of its president by a group of suspected mercenaries from the two nations.

FBI officials will travel to the Caribbean island alongside members of the Department of Homeland Security to see how best they can assist in the aftermath of Jovenel Moise’s death, the White House said on Friday.

Colombia will also send its national intelligence directorate and intelligence director for the National Police to help Interpol with its investigations, President Ivan Dunque wrote on Twitter.

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Haiti is in a state of turmoil after the impoverished country’s president was shot dead in his home

“We offer all possible help to find out the truth about the material and intellectual perpetrators of the assassination,” he posted, saying he had spoken with interim Haitian PM Claude Joseph on Friday.

Police in Haiti say Mr Moise was executed by a commando unit of 26 Colombian and two Haitian-American mercenaries.

Several of the suspects were paraded at a media briefing on Thursday. Pic: AP
Image: Several of the suspects were paraded at a media briefing on Thursday. Pic: AP

Seventeen of them were captured and paraded in front of journalists at a news conference in Port-au-Prince on Thursday.

National Police chief Leon Charles said the two Americans – James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55 – had come from Florida.

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One of them had worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince, he added.

FILE PHOTO: Jovenel Moise addresses the media next to his wife Martine after winning Haiti's 2016 presidential election
FILE PHOTO: Jovenel Moise addresses the media next to his wife Martine after winning the 2016 presidential election, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Picture taken November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jeanty Junior Augustin/File Photo
Image: Jovenel Moise was found dead at his home in the early hours of Wednesday

Colombian investigators have said that 17 of the suspects had retired from the Colombian army between 2018 and 2020.

Jorge Luis Vargas, director of Colombia’s National Police, said 11 of the suspected Colombian mercenaries had travelled to Haiti via Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Two others flew from Panama to the Dominican capital Santo Domingo before landing in Port-au-Prince, he said.

Pic: AP
Image: Guns and passports were also shown at Thursday’s news conference. Pic: AP

Solage and Vincent were among the 17 captured following a gun battle with Haitian authorities near Mr Moise’s suburban home where he was found dead in the early hours of Wednesday.

Mr Moise, 53, was discovered lying on his back in his bedroom with 12 bullet wounds and his left eye damaged, local tribunal judge Carl Henry Destin said on Friday.

The front door of his home was riddled with bullets and had been forced open, with other rooms in the house ransacked, he added.

Mr Moise’s wife Martine, 47, was seriously injured in the attack but is now in a stable condition after being flown to Florida for treatment.

Colombia's director of the National Police Jorge Luis Vargas
Image: Colombia’s director of the National Police Jorge Luis Vargas

As well as the 17 in custody, three other suspects were killed in the struggle with police, and eight are on the run, the Haitian police said.

They are still hunting the mastermind behind the assassination.

Thousands of Haitians gathered outside the US embassy in Port-au-Prince on Friday amid rumours America would be granting people asylum.

The island nation is in a 15-day state of emergency as it grapples with the violent crisis.

 Sky News

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