Haiti President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated early Wednesday (July 7), fueling worry about the country’s political stability. Moïse was killed after a group of unidentified gunmen attacked his personal residence, fatally shooting the controversial leader and critically wounding his wife, Martine Moïse. The First Lady was flown to Miami to receive medical treatment, and according to reports is in stable, but critical condition.
Police officials in the nation say they’ve caught at least two of the alleged gunman responsible for the assassination and have since shut down the borders and implementing martial law.
Prior to Moïse’s killing, Haiti was experiencing a surge in violence, and a growing humanitarian crisis. Moïse’s leadership was also criticized by some who say the president should have stepped down earlier this year.
Here’s an update on what we know about the assassination of President Moïse and aftermath so far.
Police Report Catching the Gunmen
Authorities in Haiti reported late Wednesday night (July 7) that they arrested two of the alleged gunmen and that four of the unidentified attackers were killed by police following a hostage situation. Haiti’s police chief, Léon Charles said three police officers were taken hostage by the attackers, but were freed.
Local law enforcement agents are reportedly working to identify the nationality of the gunmen, and have stated that they spoke English and Spanish. In audio, reportedly of the assassination, obtained by CNN, the gunmen can be heard announcing themselves as DEA agents prior to opening fire. The US State Department denies having agents deployed in the area and authorities believe the gunmen were hired mercenaries. The names of the suspects have not been released.
Airlines Cancel Flights to Haiti, US Closes Embassy
In the hours after Moïse’s assassination, the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince locked down. US airlines have since cancelled flights to and from the nation.
The capital’s main airport, Toussaint Louverture International, will only be accepting diplomatic and humanitarian flights until further notice, according to an announcement made by Airport Director General Irving Mehu.
American Airlines halted operations between Miami International and Toussaint Louverture as the airline monitors the situation. Flights between Haiti and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport have also been paused.
The Dominic Republic, Haiti’s neighbor, announced it would close its border as well.
Next Steps for Haiti
Moïse’s killing comes as the nation deals with gang violence, a cholera outbreak, the ongoing impact of the devastating earthquake, and more.
Haiti’s Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph announced he would be taking over following the assassination and has placed the police and military in control of national security. Joseph has also announced that elections scheduled later on in the year should go on as planned.