Haiti’s national police chief said Wednesday evening that four suspects were killed and two others arrested following the early morning assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
Léon Charles, director of the Haitian national police, also said that three police officers were held hostage but that the police released them.
The Haitian government blamed the mercenaries for the attack.
Moïse was killed early Wednesday in what the country’s interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, called a “hateful, inhuman and barbaric act.”
Joseph said a group of “highly trained and heavily armed” people attacked Moses’ residence around 1 a.m., shooting the president and his wife.
First Lady Martine Moïse was flown to Florida and received medical treatment in Miami, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States said.
Moïse, who was 53 and took office in February 2017, was assaulted at his home in a suburb of the national capital, Port-au-Prince.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas.
Joseph called for calm in the country. He told The Associated Press that elections slated for later this year are expected to take place and pledged to work with allies and opponents of Moses.
US President Joe Biden said he was shocked and saddened to learn of Moses’ assassination and attack on his wife, and called it a heinous act.
“The United States offers its condolences to the Haitian people, and we stand ready to help as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti,” said Biden.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the assassination in the strongest terms and said the UN will continue to stand with the government and people of Haiti.
“The Secretary-General calls on all Haitians to preserve constitutional order, to stand united in the face of this heinous act and to reject all violence,” said a spokesperson for Guterres.
Moïse had resisted calls to withdraw from opponents who accused him of corruption and who insisted that his term expires in February because the country’s constitution starts the clock once a president is elected, rather only when he takes up his duties.
He had demanded to serve the rest of the year and threatened to change the Constitution to give himself more power.
The Associated Press contributed.