PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A heavily armed gang stormed into a hospital in Haiti on Wednesday and took women, children and newborns hostage, according to the medical center’s director, who appealed for help on social media.
Jose Ulysse, founder and director of the Fontaine Hospital Center in the sprawling Cite Soleil slum in the capital Port-au-Prince, confirmed the incident in a brief exchange with The Associated Press. “We are in big trouble,” he said.
Ulysse said on social media that “hundreds” of patients were taken hostage at the hospital, but the number could not immediately be confirmed. No further details were available and it was not clear why the attackers might have taken patients hostage. Ulysse did not respond to further questions for comment.
A spokesman for the Haitian National Police did not immediately respond seeking comment.
The hospital is seen as an oasis and lifeline in a community overrun by gangs carrying out increasingly violent attacks against each other, with civilians living in Cite Soleil routinely raped, beaten or killed.
Ulysse identified those responsible as members of the Brooklyn gang, led by Gabriel Jean-Pierre, better known as “Ti Gabriel.” Jean-Pierre is also the leader of a powerful gang alliance called G-Pep, one of two rival coalitions in Haiti.
The Brooklyn gang has around 200 members and controls certain communities within Cite Soleil, including Brooklyn. According to a recent UN report, they are involved in extortion, theft of goods and general violence against civilians.
“The G-Pep coalition and its allies have greatly increased cooperation and diversified their revenues, particularly by committing kidnappings for ransom, which have allowed them to strengthen their fighting power,” the report said.
When The Associated Press visited Fontaine Hospital Center earlier this year, Ulysse said in an interview that gangs had personally attacked him twice.
Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, gangs across Haiti have become increasingly powerful, and kidnappings and murders continue to rise.
Earlier this year, at least 20 armed gang members stormed into a Doctors Without Borders hospital and kidnapped a patient from an operating room. The criminals gained entry after feigning a life-threatening emergency, the organization said.
Associated Press reporter Dánica Coto contributed in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Source : apnews.com