Peacekeepers accused after killings in Haiti

Independent witnesses say up to 23 people were killed during the raid and that many were shot in the head. Video footage seen by The Independent shows the bodies of many killed in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and contains testimony from witnesses claiming the victims were killed by "blue helmets" ­ common parlance for UN peacekeepers.

In a statement, the UN Mission in Haiti (Minustah) said: "[UN forces] did not target civilians in the operation ... but the nature of such missions in densely populated urban areas is such that there is always a risk of civilian casualties. Minustah deeply regrets any injuries or loss of life during its operation."

Yesterday, the most senior UN peacekeeping official appealed to the Security Council for specialised troops for Haiti ­ admitting the forces available were not trained for such raids.

The footage of the aftermath of the 6 July raid in the Cité Soleil slum was taken by a team led by Haitian-based journalist Kevin Pina. Pina said: " Numerous witnesses said the victims were killed by UN forces ­ the Haitian National Police (HNP) were not even there. I think the fact the UN did not bring a single doctor or ambulance with them on this mission is extraordinary ­ surely you would do that whether you were targeting criminal gangs or civilians? It is interesting that so many victims were shot in the head. I think the reason they did not bring ambulances is that they were not shooting to wound, they were shooting to kill."

The raid took place against a backdrop of violence in Haiti ahead of autumn elections. Authorities say much of the violence is perpetrated by criminal gangs with links to the former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

But since the ousting of the democratically elected Mr Aristide last year, human rights groups have detailed repression of his supporters by the US-backed interim government and the HNP. A report by the human rights programme at Harvard Law School said there were also "credible allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by Minustah".

Minustah said its dawn raid, involving more than 400 troops, targeted the gang leader known as "Dread Wilme", who is accused of murder and kidnapping. He and four alleged associates were killed.

But other independent witnesses support Pina's evidence that civilians werealso killed. David Welsh, of the US Labour/Human Rights Delegation to Haiti, was at a conference in Port-au-Prince that weekend. Delegation members interviewed witnesses and filmed the bodies of victims. He described the shooting as a "massacre": "Based on witnesses' testimony and the number of bodies we were able to confirm, we believe that at least 23 people were killed," he said.

Among the dead were four-year-old Stanley Romelus, who was shot in the head; his mother, Sonia, and his one-year-old brother, Nelson. The boy's father said they were killed in their house after UN forces threw smoke grenades. His testimony is to be included in a documentary Pina is producing based on the footage.

Christophe Fournier, Médecins Sans Frontières, which has a clinic close to Cité Soleil, said: "On that day we treated 27 people for gunshot wounds. Of them, around 20 were women under the age of 18."

Minustah claims it received "unconfirmed information" that criminal gangs were seen killing civilians after its operation. It said: "Subsequently, these elements attributed these atrocious acts to Minustah."

At UN headquarters yesterday, Jean-Marie Guehenno, undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, asked for specialist troops for Haiti. "I have to acknowledge the forces we have do not have the kind of very specialised capacity ... that makes absolutely sure that there will be zero civilian casualties in a densely populated environment."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain