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The capital of Haiti has faced four days of riots and demonstrations — forcing US tourists and missionaries to stay inside following a government-ordered increase on gas prices.
Looters have been burning down buildings, pillaging shops and setting up fiery roadblocks in Port-au-Prince during clashes with local police over the price hikes. The US Embassy has urged citizens to remain inside.
An estimated 120 Americans are reportedly staying in a Port-au-Prince hotel — where demonstrators tried setting a fire Saturday.
Church groups and volunteers from several different states — including North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia — are also said to be stranded in Haiti as the riots continue.
Many said they feared for their lives over the weekend as the demonstrations ramped up.
“I, 100 percent thought I was going to die, and so was my sister and my fiancé,” said Savannah Peek, a missionary from Richmond County, NC.
She told WSOC that protesters tried getting to her and her team at one point.
“We hear a loud knocking. We look over and there’s 10 men trying to break in,” she said. “We heard gunshots start and they were very close. At this point, we all dropped immediately to the ground. We’re all on our hands and knees. Everyone’s screaming, everyone’s crying.”
Peek said that things got so bad, she and several others were given guns to protect themselves.
“People started passing out guns to civilians because we thought the 10 were about to break in and rob us, kill us, start a fire,” she explained. “We had no idea.”
Peek claimed that some locals were doing their best to keep the US citizens safe.
“The people here where we’re staying have been nothing short of amazing,” she said. “I really love Haiti, but I’m scared for my life.”
While the riots have been violent, officials have yet to report a single injury or death.
The demonstrations appeared to die down briefly on Saturday after local officials announced a temporary stop to the price increase. But it’s still not likely enough to satisfy protesters.
“The gas prices went up to $5 a liter, which is like $20 a gallon,” explained Jonathan Thames, missionary with Peek’s Richmond County team. “They only make about $2 a day.”
With Post wires