At Least A Dozen Dead After Gangs Storm Haiti’s Main Prison, Hundreds Of Inmates Escape

(Photo by LUCKENSON JEAN/AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images)

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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At least a dozen people died after armed gangs stormed Haiti’s main prison Saturday evening, leading to hundreds of inmates fleeing, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Chaos erupted at the country’s main prison in the capital of Port-au-Prince after gangs stormed the detention center, releasing a large unconfirmed number of inmates onto the streets of Haiti, according to France 24. The attacks occurred in multiple locations, the Haitian Communications Ministry confirmed the incident Sunday in a post to X (formerly Twitter). (RELATED: State Judges Slammed For Releasing Hundreds Of People Accused Of Violent Crimes)

“During these outbreaks of violence, which took place in several places, criminals with big guns sought to release those who were imprisoned for acts of murder, kidnapping, and other serious crimes,” the Communications Ministry stated. “With the complicity of some people, the criminals did not hesitate to kill civilians, loot and burn public and private property. Unfortunately, the police did not manage to prevent the bandits from releasing many prisoners.”

“This bloody attack caused many injuries among the prisoners as well as the prison staff.”

Arnel Remy, a lawyer for a nonprofit group working inside the prison, claimed in an online post only 99 prisoners remained in the penitentiary after an estimated 3,597 prisoners escaped following the attack. The government, however, has yet to publicly release the exact number of escaped criminals.

Following the aftermath of the incident, three bodies were found with gunshot wounds at the prison entrance; another two bloodied corpses were discovered in a nearby neighborhood near burning tires set up as roadblocks, according to the AP.

Video footage posted to X allegedly captured chaotic moments during the raid, with residents running as gunshots apparently rang out repeatedly in the background. The exact location of the footage remains unclear, but multiple individuals can be seen running low through what appears to be a graveyard as shots were fired off-camera.

Another clip showed burning tires being set up as a roadblock, with people nearby watching, alongside an interview with a member of the National Police Union, Gary Jean-Baptiste. Jean-Baptiste criticized the country’s officials, claiming that police were “left to fend for themselves” in the country’s streets.

“We can solve the problem of insecurity that currently plagues the country. However, it is outrageous that all the country’s authorities drive around in armoured cars while the people have no armoured vehicles and the police don’t even have bullet-proof vests. I paid for this vest and this helmet that I’m wearing right now out of my own pocket. The police didn’t give them to me. The police are on their own in the streets without any proper equipment,” Jean-Baptist stated.

The recent incident follows a surge in coordinated attacks by gangs in Port-au-Prince, with a shootout leaving four police officers dead, according to CBS News. Gang leaders also announced “all armed groups” would actively work to force Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign, the outlet reported.

“Today, we declare that all armed groups will act to force Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign,” said gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherisier.

“We will employ all strategies to achieve this objective,” he added. “We take responsibility for all the events unfolding on the streets right now.”