A 28-member hit squad made up of Americans and Colombians assassinated President Jovenel Moise, Haitian police said Thursday, adding that eight were still at large as the country lurched into political chaos.
One day after Moise was killed and his wife Martine wounded by gunmen in their Port-au-Prince home, the poorest country in the Americas has no president or working parliament and two men claiming to be in charge as prime minister.
Police paraded some of the suspects before the media on Thursday, along with Colombian passports and weapons they had seized. The head of the Haiti’s National Police, Leon Charles, vowed to track the other eight down.
“It was a team of 28 assailants, 26 of whom were Colombian, who carried out the operation to assassinate the president,” Charles said at the press conference in Port-au-Prince.
“We have arrested 15 Colombians and the two Americans of Haitian origin. Three Colombians have been killed while eight others are on the loose.”
Previously authorities had said four of the suspects had been killed. Charles did not explain the discrepancy.
Colombia’s defense minister Diego Molano also said at least six members of the hit squad appeared to be Colombian ex-soldiers, and that he had ordered the army and police to help with the investigation.
“The initial information indicates that they are Colombian citizens, retired members of the national army,” Molano said in a video sent to news media.
Hundreds of residents clamored outside a police station in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where suspects were being held, shouting “burn them” and setting fire to a vehicle they presumed was that of the assassins.
Police chief Charles described the killers as “mercenaries” and said that security forces had engaged in a fierce gun battle with the suspected assassins that lasted late into the night.
“We have the physical authors, now we are looking for the intellectual authors,” Charles said.