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#423: Assassination Attempt in Haiti (fwd)




From: Antoine Blanc <ablanc@acn2.net>

Monday September 6 6:56 PM ET

Assassination Attempt in Haiti

                        By MICHAEL NORTON Associated Press Writer

                        PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - A gunman opened
fire on a Haitian political party leader in what the
                        politician said Monday was an attempt to
assassinate him.

                        Sauveur Pierre Etienne, secretary of the
Struggling People's Organization, said a man stepped onto the
                        road as Etienne was driving away from the
Port-au-Prince airport with his family Sunday afternoon. The
                        gunman aimed a pistol at Etienne from about 12
feet and fired, hitting the hood of the car, Etienne said.

Etienne was armed and fired back, wounding the man ``in the lower part
of his body,'' he said. The gunman then fled with another
man who was standing by the side of the road.

``This is the last in a long series of attempts to intimidate our
party,'' Etienne said, calling the gunman ``a professional hitman.''

The shooting occurred one day after a grenade exploded in front of
Haiti's Chamber of Commerce headquarters, damaging the
building's facade but causing no injuries.

Gunmen have fired weapons several times in front of the house of Sen.
Yrvelt Chery, a member of the Struggling People's
Organization. And in March, party member Sen. Jean Yvon-Toussaint was
killed in front of his house.

The Struggling People's Organization held a majority in Parliament until
President Rene Preval dissolved the body in January.

Several of the party's lawmakers fled Haiti at the end of April
following death threats and a shooting attack on the home of one of
them.

``Our entire central committee is targeted,'' Etienne said.

Some politicians have charged that grassroots groups are trying to
destabilize the country as Haiti heads toward new elections in
November.

Chamber of Commerce President Gerard Bailly said Monday that he believes
his group's efforts to stem violence in the Caribbean
country prompted Saturday's grenade attack. The Chamber of Commerce had
spoken out against the slaying of a prominent
downtown businessman and two street moneychangers last week.

The group's president was recently forced to leave Haiti for several
months because of death threats.

Last week, Preval expressed regret over unrest in his country of 8
million people but said he does not believe Haiti is unstable.

``The level of insecurity is unacceptable, and we must do what we can to
lower it,'' he said. ``But in comparison with the statistics
for other countries, we cannot say Haiti has more insecurity.''



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