PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – An unidentified man was shot dead Friday while students staged another demonstration in a week of small but raucous street protests in the capital’s downtown, authorities said.
Frantz Lerebours, spokesman for Haiti’s police force, said the young man was killed when a “civilian” hopped off the back of a passing motorcycle in the heart of Port-au-Prince and shot the victim. He said police were searching for the killer.
Police made one arrest on charges of public disturbance during the protest, Lerebours said. The arrest brought the week’s total of arrests to three, for the same charges.
The slaying happened near a university campus where students have been protesting over a prison guard’s alleged fatal shooting of a 24-year-old graduate student last Saturday.
The man shot Friday appeared to be in his early 20s and was taken a few blocks to the emergency room at General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Judge Gabriel Ambroise said the victim wasn’t carrying any identification and had three bullet wounds, including one to the chest.
Worried mothers, sisters and others showed up at the hospital to see if they might know the young man. About a dozen police detectives also arrived to see if they could learn more about what happened.
Protesters had accused troops from the United Nations peacekeeping mission of possibly being responsible for the death. U.N. officials denied that.
One demonstrator, Julien Marc Elie, said he saw U.N. troops fire their weapons in the direction of protesters.
“I saw for myself that the U.N. shot at the crowd,” said Elie, 25.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, Yasmina Bouziane, disputed that the troops at the protest fired their weapons.
“Minustah didn’t fire at all,” she said, referring to the force by its French acronym.
Protesters responded to the shooting by burning a van parked outside the university and setting fire to barricades of tires. As in earlier protests, they also threw rocks at U.N. peacekeepers and riot police, who responded with tear gas canisters.
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince advised U.S. citizens to avoid the area until the demonstrations ended.