Haiti: U.N. peacekeepers open fire on police patrol, injure two officers

Haiti's national police on Tuesday accused U.N. troops of firing on a police patrol and injuring two officers, but a U.N. official said it's not clear peacekeepers were responsible.

The officers were driving on the outskirts of the lawless Port-au-Prince slum of Cite Soleil on Monday when U.N. troops allegedly sprayed their marked police car with automatic weapons fire, police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said.

One police officer was wounded and needed surgery, while the other received minor injuries, police inspector general Gessy Coicou said.

U.N. spokesman Damian Onses-Cardona couldn't immediately confirm the shooting but said officials were investigating. "For the time being, what happened is not clear at all," Onses-Cardona said. A contingent of Jordanian peacekeepers is based in the slum, but Onses-Cardona couldn't confirm if troops were in the area at the time of the shooting.

Michael Lucius, head of Haiti's judicial police, said his office would also investigate the shootings. He said the officers didn't return fire.

A 7,600-strong U.N. peacekeeping force came to Haiti in June 2004 to restore political stability and security after the ouster of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide. National elections are scheduled for Jan. 8.

Peacekeepers in recent months have tried to assert control over Cite Soleil, a sprawling seaside slum that serves as a base for street gangs blamed for a wave of shootings and kidnappings that have terrorized the capital.

Meanwhile, Aristide's Lavalas Family party said Tuesday that one of its most prominent members, Emmanuel Cantave, was kidnapped on Saturday and was being held in Cite Soleil. Lavalas leader Yvon Feuille said Cantave's family is negotiating with the kidnappers, who are demanding a US$200,000 (Ђ171,000) ransom. A former aide to Aristide's prime minister, Cantave was considered a key link between the ousted president and his supporters.

Haiti's interim government and U.N. officials have warned that gangs could use violence to disrupt elections, the first since a February 2004 revolt pushed Aristide from power and into exile in South Africa, reported AP. P.T.

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