Clashes leave 2 dead, 30 hurt
President Aristide’s supporters and opponents clash in a day of violence that leaves at least two dead and 30 injured.
BY MICHAEL A.W. OTTEY
Injuries were reported throughout the day, one of the earliest an opposition marcher struck in the head by a rock. Tensions grews as a group of Aristide backers taunted the anti-Aristide crowd in a Petionville park where the march was scheduled to kick off. They sang songs of support for Aristide and the president’s Lavalas Family party.
Later, police shot and killed an Aristide supporter after he opened fire on the crowd, the Associated Press reported. One anti-government protester also was shot and killed. News reports said that 30 people were injured and being treated at hospitals, the AP said.
Although government officials as recently as Tuesday reaffirmed the demonstrators’ right to protest peacefully, Aristide backers attacked the protesters, most of them university students, with rocks, knives and clubs.
Wednesday’s protest was the first of several acts of civil disobedience planned this week in an effort to force Aristide’s resignation. The opposition has called for a general strike today and Friday and another protest Sunday.
Aristide said he will not step down because the majority of the population is behind him. Earlier this week Mario Dupuy, a government spokesman, blamed anti-Aristide forces for
”They seem to be looking for confrontation in a scenario that is very similar to what was used in
But on Wednesday four pickup trucks loaded with armed men — many of them teenagers — raced toward protesters as they made their way down
Meanwhile, the approaching demonstrators, their ranks swelling along the way, were cheered by thousands of individuals lining the streets. Many of them joined the protest, denouncing the violence and Aristide.
”Aristide is in trouble!” the protesters chanted as they marched with a police escort. According to one of the marchers, those same police officers had fired tear gas at them earlier in the day.
Dupuy, the government spokesman, said the opposition groups are trying to circumvent the will of a majority of the population.