Haiti police exchange fire with troops near national palace

February 23, 2020 - 2:37 pm

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Off-duty police officers exchanged fire on Sunday with members of the newly reconstituted Haitian army in front of the national palace in a dangerous escalation of protests over police pay and working conditions.

Associated Press journalists saw dozens of men who said they were off-duty officers march with hundreds of supporters toward the palace in the latest in days of demonstrations demanding better pay for Haitian law-enforcement officers.

The protest stopped outside a military outpost facing the palace.

Associated Press journalists then saw several soldiers at the outpost fire into the air. Shortly afterward, an exchange of fire erupted between the soldiers and police. It was not clear which side began firing at the other first.

The army was disbanded in 1995 after the fall of a dictatorship that used soldiers to repress domestic opponents. President Jovenel Moise reformed the army in 2017, promising that the military would patrol Haiti's borders, assist in natural disasters and avoid domestic affairs.

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