GONAIVES, Haiti — To cheers of approval, rebels set ablaze an accused government hit man and shot another man Wednesday, raising the death toll to 46 in a popular uprising that began in this traditional hotbed of revolutionary fervor.
South of Gonaives, police attacked rebels holed up in a slum in the port city of St. Marc, and witnesses said gunmen loyal to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who said he wouldn’t resign, torched homes, killing two people, as looting and reprisals raged.
In northern Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city, sporadic gunshots crackled overnight, attackers looted a food warehouse and militants set up blazing barricades to prevent a possible rebel incursion.
The armed revolt has spread to several of the nation’s towns and cities since beginning last Thursday in Gonaives, about 60 miles north of the capital, Port-au-Prince. But the weeklong rebellion has become somewhat of a stalemate, and much of the country remains quiet.
Critics have accused Mr. Aristide’s government of inciting some of the violence, and the White House issued a rebuke Wednesday.
“We are extremely concerned about the wave of violence spreading through Haiti,” said Scott McClellan, press secretary to President Bush. “We call on the government to respect the rights, especially human rights, of the citizens and residents of Haiti.”
At his first news conference since the uprising, Mr. Aristide on Wednesday refused to resign and said the rebels — whom he labeled terrorists — were allied with the political opposition.
“They suffer from a small group of thugs linked to the opposition .. acting on behalf of the opposition,” Mr. Aristide told journalists in the capital, adding he would step down only when his term expires.
“I will leave the palace Feb. 7, 2006,” he said, without addressing how he planned to put down the insurrection. His officials have said that, to prevent civilian casualties, any counterattacks must be part of a strategy that could take time to plan.
Mr. Aristide will be tested Thursday when the Democratic Platform, a broad coalition that has distanced itself from the bloody revolt, has called for a massive demonstration for Haitians to show him they no longer want his leadership.
“Aristide created the climate of violence and he will use the violence against him to justify an even greater violence,” said Leslie Manigat, who was president for five months in 1988 before the army deposed him.
Opposition parties have refused to participate in new elections unless Mr. Aristide steps down. Tension has mounted since Mr. Aristide’s party swept flawed legislative elections in 2000.
Many who once swore allegiance to Mr. Aristide have turned their guns on his police, saying the government is corrupt and has betrayed them. They ask what Haitians have gained since escaped slaves defeated Napoleon’s army 200 years ago and declared independence in Gonaives’ central Place d’Armes.
Crowds cheered as rebels swooped down on an alleged hit man for Mr. Aristide and applied a common assassination method called “necklacing.”
“They put tires on him and burned him,” said Patricia Joseph, 17 years old. “Everyone stood up and said it was good.”
Rebels also shot an escaped convict and one-time supporter of Mr. Aristide when he refused to surrender his rifle, according to witness Reynald Kazeles, 27. The man was shot eight times.
The uprising erupted here last week when rebels attacked the police station, torching it and the mayor’s house.
The courthouse stood deserted on Wednesday, government offices were closed and hospitals understaffed. Supplies were running low and food prices have spiraled because barricades have blocked deliveries on Haiti’s main south-north highway, which goes though Gonaives.