(Reuters) – One person was shot dead and five were wounded on Sunday when gunmen took to the streets to break up an anti-government demonstration in Haiti‘s capital.



People hiding in allies and on rooftops threw rocks and bottles and fired shots as thousands of anti-government demonstrators marched through the streets of Port-au-Prince. The demonstrators were protected by dozens of police officers, and most of the damage occurred before and after the protest.

Five people were shot in the street outside a state-owned television station along the route of the marchers but before they had arrived on the scene, according to witnesses. A local radio station said at least two of the wounded were merchants.

After the demonstration, groups of marchers retraced the route to return to their homes and cars, while armed men in trucks drove around the city, firing their weapons. One demonstrator was hit and killed by a bullet, witnesses said.

A local hospital confirmed that one person had been fatally shot and three others were treated for gunshot wounds.

The protest, like many in recent weeks, was organized by leaders of a coalition intent on forcing President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to resign.

Several thousand students and others walked and ran up and down the capital’s hilly streets for almost four hours, chanting anti-Aristide slogans.

The police, recently criticized by demonstrators and the international community for failing to protect anti-Aristide demonstrators, were repeatedly applauded by protesters as they chased and arrested attackers.

Some chanted, “Down with Aristide; long live the police!” and “Down with Aristide; long live the students!”

One demonstrator, a student and off-duty police officer who feared the consequences if his name was revealed, said he marched because “Aristide leads a country in which impunity and criminality rule.”

He said: “Police can provide security if Aristide wants them to. If he doesn’t want them to, they can’t.”

Aristide, Haiti‘s first democratically elected president, has seen his popularity plummet in recent years amid a worsening economy and charges of corruption and human rights abuses. Demonstrations, strikes and gatherings calling for his resignation have dominated the local news in recent months.