Haitians in the capital Port-au-Prince left their houses on Monday as gun fighting erupted between rival gangs, after conflicts between armed groups that killed at least 20 people last week.
Battles between rival Chen Mechan and 400 Mawozo gangs, the latter of which abducted a group of American and Canadian missionaries in October, drove hundreds of people to evacuate their homes, the country’s civil protection office said on Wednesday.
According to a media witness, gunfire erupted on Monday afternoon in the underprivileged area of Cite Soleil, causing hundreds of scared people to flee their houses and run in all directions.
To prevent being assaulted, several people strolled with their hands in the air to signify they weren’t armed.
It was unclear which gangs were engaged or how many individuals had been displaced at the time.
Armed individuals dressed in civilian clothes were also seen in the “La Plaine” district, which is close to Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture.
Calls to the Haitian National Police for comment were not returned immediately.
Since President Jovenel Moise’s killing in July, gang violence in Haiti has intensified, with significant swaths of the country being outside the grasp of official authority.
This has fuelled migration to the United States, with increasing numbers of Haitians coming by water through the Bahamas in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels.