Originally: Philippine troops to remain in Haiti

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: United Nations peacekeepers and Haitian police were moving into the Cite Soleil slum outside Port-au-Prince on Friday, April 1, as the Philippines announced it would maintain its 135 troops in Haiti.


The announcement by Manila came despite reports that a Filipino soldier had been fired upon at a hotel where UN peacekeepers stay.


A senior Philippine government official said that the soldier identified as staff sergeant Rodrigo Galam was not hurt in the first ever attack on Philippine troops in the former French colony.


“This will not in any way alter our resolve to help bring peace and stability to that country,” the official said in a statement.


The soldier was guarding the hotel in Port-au-Prince that will serve as the future headquarters of the UN peacekeeping forces in the country.


Last month, two UN peacekeepers were killed as the authorities stepped up their plans to disarm gangs of former soldiers in the capital in preparation for elections in November 2005.


On Thursday, the peacekeepers and police surrounded Cite Soleil, a traditional stronghold of ousted Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide.


Reports said at least one person was killed and six others wounded during on going violence in the area.


Military spokesman Lt-Col Elouafi Boulbars said that the authorities would move progressively into the area in a bid to take control of the region ahead of the elections.


The 7,400-member UN force in Haiti has come under criticism for inaction in stemming the violence more than a year after Aristide was removed from office.


Police also reported that nearly 30 gunmen on Thursday tried to hijack vehicles on a road into Cite Soleil, shooting and killing at least one truck driver.


The Haitian Red Cross said at least six people were injured by gunfire.