Four Suspects In the Assassination Of Haitian President Have Been Shot Dead

Four suspected assassins have been shot dead and another two arrested after Haiti's president was killed in a raid on his home in the early hours of Wednesday. 

Police chief Leon Charles said officers had 'blocked' a gang of hired guns from leaving the scene of the fatal attack on 53-year-old Jovenel Moïse, in the capital Port au Prince, and have been 'battling' with them ever since. 

Three police officers were taken hostage by the 'mercenaries' at one point, but were subsequently freed. An unspecified number of attackers are still at large, Charles said, adding: 'They will be killed or arrested.'

Video taken over the city on Wednesday evening showed smoke rising from several locations and captured the sound of gunfire - thought it was unclear whether the shooting was related to the police operation or signaled that the impoverished, violence-wracked nation was plunging deeper into chaos.

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who has stepped into the presidential power vacuum amid confusion over who should succeed Mr Moise, said the president was shot by a gang of 'foreigners who spoke English and Spanish' and who had disguised themselves as agents of the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

Martine Moise, Haiti's first lady, was also gravely wounded in the attack - shot in the leg and arm, and seriously wounded in the abdomen and hand - and has been airlifted to Miami for treatment. 

The assassination came amid political turmoil in Haiti with opponents of Mr Moise trying to force him from office, claiming his five-year term has expired. Mr Moise said back in February that he survived another assassination attempt, describing it as 'a coup'. At least 23 people, including a top judge and police official, were arrested.

Mr Joseph has now declared a two-week 'state of siege' imposing martial law, halting all flights out of Port-Au-Prince and sealing the country's borders, while neighboring Dominican Republic mobilized its military to guard Haiti's only land border.

Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the United States, described the assassins as 'foreign mercenaries and professional killers,' and Joseph said some of the gang are believed to be from Columbia and Venezuela.

Haiti's Police Chief Léon Charles said late Wednesday that three police officers had been taken hostage by the suspected assassins, but were safely rescued after a police shootout with the suspects.  

It followed a tense day of uncertainty and chaos for millions of Haitians, with no presidential succession plan in place, and the fraught security situation leaving the streets of Port-Au-Prince deserted as millions sheltered in their homes and waited for any news updates. 

The Haitian president's 47-year-old wife, Martine Moise, suffered multiple gunshot injuries during the deadly attack on her husband, and was airlifted in critical condition to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, where she arrived at 3.30pm on Wednesday, reported WPLG-TV.

She was then transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for medical treatment. Officials said her vital signs were stable but her condition was still critical.

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