Dozens of gunmen have stormed a police station in Haiti, killing one officer and wounding at least two others. The shooters wore military-style uniforms. Some of the attackers died in a car crash while trying to flee.
The attack on the police station left one shooter and one policeman dead, authorities in the southern Haitian city Les Cayes said on Monday.
Regional police chief Luc Pierre said the assailants stole automatic weapons during the charge.
"Gunmen in military fatigues attacked police headquarters around 2:30 am, they beat several police officers and took away a number of weapons," Pierre said.
Octave Jean, the head police inspector in Les Cayes, said there were as many as 50 attackers who "tortured" officers.
"We were caught off guard but this will not happen again," Jean said.
Military link suspected
After the shootout, the attackers tried to drive away in a white van. However, the vehicle swerved off the road and into a ravine, killing three of the gunmen. Four men were captured, according to the police.
"We have control of the situation now and our investigation is under way," the police inspector said.
Jean confirmed that the attackers wore uniforms that appeared to be from Haiti's disbanded military. However, it was not immediately clear if the gunmen had a military background.
Haiti abolished the military in 1995 due to the army's historical involvement in toppling governments and its crackdowns on dissent.
Attacker points to paramilitary leader
One of the suspected attackers told reporters that his group was "commissioned" to take over the police headquarters by an ex-paramilitary leader Guy Philippe.
Philippe was involved in the anti-government uprising in 2004 and is wanted by the US for cocaine trafficking. This year, he threatened another uprising after Haiti was forced to cancel presidential elections and set up an interim government.
On Monday, however, Philippe denied any involvement in the Les Cayes attack.
Soldiers out of work
Haiti has seen several incidents involving soldiers and their supporters during recent months.
In February this year, a band of former Haitian troopers clashed with a crowd of anti-government protesters in Port-au-Prince, with the mob killing one of the ex-soldiers. The soldiers wore faded uniforms and carried weapons. Earlier this month, a group of mostly young men in green uniforms and boots blocked an entrance to Haiti's defense ministry asking for work protecting the border.
Former President Michel Martelly, who left power after the failed election, has reportedly pledged to revive the military. His political ally and presidential candidate Jovenel Moise also supports that plan.
Darko Janjevic (AP, Reuters)