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Haitian journalists killed while covering violence in the capital

The fatal shooting of two Haitian journalists in Port-au-Prince is condemned as gang violence continues to escalate.

Two Haitian journalists were killed over the weekend while reporting in the country’s capital, a journalists’ association and news outlets said, while deadly gang violence continues to spread in Port-au-Prince.

The two reporters were fatally shot and their bodies burned on Sunday while covering violence in the impoverished neighborhood of Cite Soleil, which has suffered from increased gang activity in recent months. Their bodies were not recovered.

The victims were identified as journalist Tayson Latigue, who worked for the digital publication Ti Jenn Jounalis, and Frantzsen Charles, a reporter at FS News Haiti.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our journalist and reporter Frantzsen Charles and another colleague. They were killed by bandits while reporting at Cite Soleil. We demand justice for our colleague,” FS News Haiti said in a statement.

Her death comes amid rising violence in Haiti, where rival gangs have been fighting for control of territory in and around the capital as instability worsened following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last July.

Reporters had been investigating violence in Cite Soleil, including the recent killing of a 17-year-old girl, when they were attacked on Sunday, according to a statement from Haiti’s Association of Independent Journalists.

“The journalists were just doing their job,” the group said. “You have committed no crime.”

Dieudonne St-Cyr, a reporter for the association, told Metropole Haiti radio that seven journalists were ambushed by two rival gangs. Five of the reporters escaped unharmed.

The association has called on the Haitian government to act against the growing instability, calling the killings “further evidence of the state’s inability to protect life and property, which amounts to nothing more than a violation of human rights”.

It also described the killings as a “rogue and heinous act”.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he was “deeply shocked” by the deadly attack on the reporters. “We condemn in the strongest terms this barbaric act and send our heartfelt thoughts to the families of the victims and their colleagues,” he said wrote on Twitter on Monday evening.

Henry has asked for help as the island nation grapples with mounting violence, inflation and fuel shortages. “The country has many problems,” he said in a televised address earlier this week. “I urge everyone to remain calm. The government works with what it has.”

Haitians have taken to the streets to protest the rising cost of living and to demand the removal of Henry, who has denied allegations that he is trying to stay in power.

Residents of Port-au-Prince hid at home on Tuesday as gunfire rang out, roadblocks and flaming tires were set up along the city’s streets and protesters threw rocks in an angry response to expected new fuel price hikes and crime.

Earlier calls for accountability for the killing of Haitian journalists have gone largely unanswered.

In January, two Haitian journalists, Wilguens Louissaint and Amady John Wesley, were killed by gangs on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

Louissaint and Wesley were also reportedly burned alive by armed groups in Laboule 12, a neighborhood that has been the scene of inter-gang violence.

The assassination of Haitian journalist Jean Dominique, then the island nation’s most famous reporter, in April 2000 also remains unsolved.

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