By Juhakenson Blaise
CROIX-DES-BOUQUETS, Haiti — Two rival gangs exchanged heavy gunfire throughout the day Sunday in Butte Boyer, a commune in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, forcing terrified residents to either hide in fear or flee their homes.
Some residents sought refuge in neighborhoods around Butte Boyer, but mainly in Zone Tè, sources based in the areas said. The Haitian Times is not revealing their identity as a safety measure.
A police operation was underway Sunday afternoon, Garry Desrosiers, a Haitian National Police spokesperson, told The Haitian Times. No further details were immediately available.
The shooting started around 6:30 a.m., jolting the awakening neighborhood into full alert. Residents said the 400 Mawozo gang reportedly wanted to install a gang leader in Croix-des-Missions, an area in Butte Boyer that Chyen Mechan, or Mad Dog, already controls.
One mother-of-three said while she and her children cowered in corners inside their home, she saw at least four masked men, “armed to the teeth” walking around her yard.
“We saw a lot of them, some jumping walls,” the woman said. “I saw them go over a wall next door, and others walking around our house and behind our house. Later, I saw two more.”
Authorities have yet to say whether anyone died or was injured in the siege-like environment.
Both are likely, according to text messages traded among residents, since the shooting continued nonstop for at least 12 hours. It was unclear which gunfire exchanges were between the rival gangs and were with the bandits and police.
Gunshots were also heard on Saturday night in Turgeau. Details about that shooting were not immediately available.