A woman guides a child past a demonstration against increasing violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. The protest coincides with the 35th anniversary of Haiti’s 1987 Constitution and follows other protests and strikes in recent weeks in the middle of a spike in gang-related kidnappings. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

By EVENS SANON

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitians took to the streets Tuesday to protest rising insecurity, with demonstrations turning violent in the southern city of Les Cayes where people stormed the local airport and attacked a small plane.

At least one person died and five others were injured, including four police officers, in the confrontation between protesters and authorities in Les Cayes, said Gedeon Chery, a National Police inspector assigned to the city’s airport.

Chery told The Associated Press the person killed was a protester who was shot, but he didn’t say whether police were responsible.

The protests coincided with the 35th anniversary of Haiti’s 1987 Constitution, and it follows other protests and strikes in recent weeks amid a spike in gang-related kidnappings and growing complaints about Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s inability to confront gangs.

Henry condemned the violence in Les Cayes. On his Twitter account, he said he has ordered authorities to look for the people behind the violence.

Chery, the police inspector, said a group of people had gotten onto the terminal’s tarmac, attacked the plane and set it on fire.

A video posted in social media showed some people on the plane’s fuselage while the red-and-white aircraft was moving on the tarmac, and others running alongside it. Chery said he didn’t know why they attacked it, but that police were sent to try to control the situation.

People also protested in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, where some burned tires. Protesters also criticized how Henry has not been able to control insecurity.

“He has nothing left to offer but words and more baseless words,” said Marie-Andre Michelle, one of the people who marched in Port-au-Prince.

Violence has increased over the past year despite the prime minister’s pledges to crack down on insecurity.

Kidnappings in Haiti increased 180% in 2021, with 655 of them reported to police, according to mid-February report by the U.N. Security Council. Authorities believe the number could be higher since many kidnappings go unreported.

Along with violence, Haiti has been also dealing with the ongoing sluggish investigation of President Jovenel Moïse’s killing last July 7, and a magnitude-7.2 earthquake that killed over 2,200 people in the country’s south last August.

SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS