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US military evacuates some US Embassy personnel in Haiti, bolsters security amid ongoing violence

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U.S. military crews have airlifted nonessential U.S. Embassy personnel in Haiti out of harm’s way amid a surge of gang-related violence against the government, according to a statement Sunday from the U.S. Southern Command.

The U.S. military said it carried out the operation in Haiti to get some embassy personnel out of the country and bolstered security at the facility in Port-au-Prince, the capital.

“At the request of the Department of State, the U.S. military conducted an operation to augment the security of the U.S. Embassy at Port-au-Prince, allow our Embassy mission operations to continue, and enable nonessential personnel to depart,” the U.S. Southern Command said in its statement.

A state of emergency remains in effect in Haiti as skirmishes continue between armed gang members and Haitian National Police.

The U.S. military statement Sunday said no Haitians were on board the military aircraft used in the evacuation.

“Our Embassy remains focused on advancing U.S. government efforts to support the Haitian people, including mobilizing support for the Haitian National Police, expediting the deployment of the United Nations-authorized Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, and accelerating a peaceful transition of power via free and fair elections,” the statement read.

“As announced in September 2023, the Department of Defense is postured to provide robust enabling support for the MSS, including planning assistance, information sharing, airlift, communications, and medical support,” the U.S. Southern Command added.

Haiti has been in open rebellion since the middle of last week, with Haiti’s most powerful gangs unifying and launching a series of attacks against government institutions. Haiti’s acting prime minister, Ariel Henry, was out of the country when the attacks began and has been unable to return.

The government has declared a state of emergency.

The State Department is encouraging American citizens to leave Haiti following the violence.

The U.S. Embassy evacuation comes in the wake of Haitian gangs launching a large-scale assault Friday against multiple government buildings in or near downtown Port-au-Prince, a law enforcement source who took part in the fighting told ABC News.

The source said the attack was coordinated and swift, with different groups simultaneously targeting multiple government buildings, including the Presidential Palace, the Interior Ministry and a police headquarters for Haiti’s western district, which includes Port-au-Prince. Several witnesses of the attacks described to ABC News intense gunfire and loud explosions, and hundreds of people fleeing the area as gangs engaged in fierce battles against the police.

The Presidential Palace has not been occupied by any Haitian president since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021. A massive earthquake in 2010 destroyed large parts of the complex, making much of it completely unusable. However, it remains a poignant symbol of Haitian federal governance and is guarded around the clock.

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