Anti-government protest in Haiti turns violent

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – An anti-government protest that snaked through sections of Haiti’s capital on Tuesday turned violent as three people were apparently shot in a volatile neighborhood.

The march began peacefully when a crowd grew to a few thousand people in slums that are opposition strongholds. But as demonstrators walked by an intersection in Delmas 32, the critics of President Michel Martelly’s administration and pro-government residents began shouting and throwing rocks at each other.

As the melee quickly escalated, Associated Press journalists witnessed three people apparently getting hit by bullets. One was hit in the neck and appeared gravely wounded. The two others sustained wounds to limbs.

As a panic ensued in the densely-packed area of cinderblock houses, officers with the Haitian National Police fired tear gas and most demonstrators dispersed. Police spokesman Frantz Lerebours and other authorities made no immediate comment about the violence or any arrests.

Even after the violence, nearly 1,000 protesters continued their Tuesday march demanding Martelly’s resignation and a chance to vote in long-delayed legislative and municipal elections, among other things. The vote has been postponed due to an ongoing stalemate over an electoral law between the government and six opposition senators.

Late Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe tweeted that the six senators need to “unlock the democratic process” and the “opposition must break with their outdated chaotic policies.”

The opposition protest took place on a public holiday to mark the 211th anniversary of an 1803 battle when an indigenous army defeated French colonial forces after 11 years of bloody struggle for emancipation from centuries of slavery.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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