Haiti gang kills US politician’s missionary daughter and her husband

Estimated read time 4 min read

The daughter and son-in-law of a US Republican politician are among three Christian missionaries who have been killed by gang members in Haiti as it emerged that the long-awaited deployment of an multinational security force tasked with rescuing the Caribbean country from months of bloodshed had been delayed.

Ben Baker, a Republican state representative from Missouri, announced the news of the couple’s murder on Facebook late on Thursday, writing: “My heart is broken in a thousand pieces. I’ve never felt this kind of pain.”

Baker said his daughter Natalie Lloyd and her husband, Davy – both Christian missionaries in Haiti – “were attacked by gangs this evening and were both killed. They went to Heaven together.”

Their group, Missions in Haiti Inc, said the couple and another member of the group named only as Jude had been “ambushed by a gang of 3 trucks full of guys” while leaving church and were “shot and killed” at about 9pm on Thursday. “We all are devastated,” the group posted on Facebook.

A spokesperson for the White House national security council said the Biden administration was aware of reports of the deaths of the US citizens, saying: “Our hearts go out to the families of those killed as they experience unimaginable grief.”

The killings came just hours after Joe Biden voiced optimism that Haiti’s security crisis – which began spiraling out of control in late February after a coordinated gang insurrection – could soon be solved with the arrival of a 2,500-strong Kenya-led multinational policing force.

“We’re not talking about a thousand-person army that is made up of trained [personnel],” Biden said of the Haitian gangs who have plunged the country into mayhem and forced the country’s previous prime minister, Ariel Henry, from power. “This is a crisis that is able to be dealt with.”

The first Kenyan members of that force were supposed to land in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, this week to spearhead the operation, with their arrival timed to coincide with a state visit the Kenyan president, William Ruto, is making to the US.

Speaking alongside Biden on Thursday, Ruto also voiced confidence that the US-backed policing mission could “break the back of the gangs and the criminals that have visited untold suffering” on Haiti since the start of a coordinated criminal insurrection in late February. Armed criminals would be dealt with “firmly, decisively [and] within the parameters of the law”, Ruto vowed.

But the first contingent of Kenyan officers did not arrive as planned this week, with confusion surrounding the reasons for the postponement.

One source with knowledge of the mission told Reuters the Kenyan officers were given no explanation for the last-minute delay but ordered to remain on standby. A second source said “conditions were not in place in Port-au-Prince to receive the officers”.

Other sources in Kenya’s interior ministry told the Geneva-based civil society group Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime that an advance team sent by Kenya had found Haiti “ill-prepared for the deployment”.

Some observers suspect the delay could be related to security concerns over giving the heavily armed gangs advance warning of the mission’s arrival – something which might allow criminals to launch surprise attacks on incoming planes.

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Diego Da Rin, a Haiti specialist from the International Crisis Group, said that if and when it arrived, the multinational force would face a huge task trying to subdue an estimated 5,000 gang members who control more than 80% of the capital.

“The gangs have never controlled so much territory in Haiti. They have expanded their armies and their arsenals and they have established strongholds in areas the police have not been able to access, sometimes for years,” he said.

In recent days, armed groups have intensified their attacks, completely or partly demolishing at least four police stations in a striking show of strength seemingly designed to coincide with the anticipated arrival of Kenyan forces.

“That’s a message and it is not a veiled message … The message is: ‘Don’t come here, because if you come … you will be treated as invaders and enemies,’” Da Rin said.

Source: theguardian.com

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