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5904: Teen killed in Haiti as 7 bombs explode in run-up to elections (fwd)
From: Rosann Clements <email@example.com>
Published Thursday, November 23, 2000, in the Miami Herald
Teen killed in Haiti as 7 bombs explode in run-up to elections
U.S. issues warning to travelers
BY YVES COLON
A 14-year-old boy was killed and several other persons injured when at least
seven explosive devices went off Wednesday in the Haitian capital of
Port-au-Prince, the scene of increasing violence in the days leading up to
national elections Sunday.
In response to the blasts, police officials ordered increased security
patrols in the streets both to discourage similar actions and to restore
calm, a spokesman said.
``We want to stop the people who are causing this problem, that's for
sure,'' the police department spokesman said. ``We also want to create as
much space as possible between the people who need to go about their
business and those responsible for these bombings.''
Police said the teenager was killed when three men threw a handmade bomb
into the city's commercial center. Another bomb was thrown nearby.
Protesters carried the teen's blood-soaked body on a march past the National
Palace to the local morgue.
Two other devices were detonated on the highway to the international airport
and three in the suburb of Petionville.
Shortly after noon, streets throughout the metropolitan area emptied, as
merchants shuttered their doors and parents fearful of further violence
picked up their children from schools early.
EMBASSY SHUTS DOWN
The U.S. Embassy sent employees home and will shut down for the remainder of
the week because of safety concerns. The French Embassy and the U.N.
Development Program announced similar measures.
The government blames the violence on opposition political groups, which it
says want to intimidate Haitians and keep them from voting. The opposition,
which is boycotting Sunday's contest, said the government is trying to find
a way to call off the elections without losing face.
But partly because there is little opposition, Haitians have shown apathy
toward the vote, expecting former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to win
easily over four unknown challengers.
In Haiti, political violence and instability around elections are
commonplace. Over the past decade, as Haiti has emerged from dictatorship
and begun to experiment with the ballot, hundreds of people have been killed
in partisan clashes. More than 15 were killed before the May 21
parliamentary elections, which the opposition has criticized as flawed by
At the end of last week, the U.S. State Department urged Americans not to
travel to Haiti because their safety could not be guaranteed. The campaign
and the vote have ``the potential to spark violent demonstrations and
individual acts of violence,'' the State Department said in a notice issued
to travelers. The tone of the dialogue among political candidates and
government officials has been ``distinctly anti-American,'' and the Haitian
government has failed to contain or condemn potential violence, the notice
Several incidents have contributed to that assessment. At least a dozen
people have been killed in the past two weeks in drive-by shootings. A
United Nations vehicle was riddled with bullets in Gonaives. The city north
of the capital was the site of a recent trial of 37 high-ranking former
military officers, including the leaders of the 1991 coup that ousted
Aristide, who were convicted in absentia of murder.
The United States, Canada and the European Union have decided not to send
foreign aid or observers to the election because the Haitian government
refused to retabulate the May votes.