MINUSTAH statement relating to the operation conducted on 06 July 2005 at Cite Soleil

The security situation in parts of Port-au-Prince remains very tense. For the past few months, different armed gangs have terrorized the population and disrupted the economic activity of the city. Kidnappings -- on a large scale -- have also become a daily plague targeting all classes, and with potentially wide reaching implications for the political process. Two particularly egregious crimes have shocked the Haitian people recently: the arson of the Tête Bœuf marketplace in the centre of Port-au-Prince, which killed at least 11 people, and the kidnapping and subsequent killing of a famous Haitian journalist, Mr. Jacques Roche.
In order to create a secure and stable environment within which the constitutional and political process can take place, MINUSTAH has taken a robust posture to disrupt the activities of these armed gangs and bring the alleged criminals to justice. A number of significant operations have been carried out in the past few months including the operation in the Bois Neuf area of Cité Soleil on 6 July, which was aimed at apprehending and bringing to justice a prominent gang leader, Emmanuel Wilmer (alias "Dread Wilmé"), who is believed to have been involved in murder, kidnapping, rape, arson, carjacking, and extortion. He is also suspected of involvement in the murder on 14 April of a Filipino soldier serving with MINUSTAH.

MINUSTAH has reason to believe that "Dread Wilmé" was killed together with four of his associates during the operation. MINUSTAH suffered no casualties.

There have been allegations against MINUSTAH that the Mission injured or killed civilians during the operation. MINUSTAH forces take all possible measures to reduce the risk of civilian casualties in their operations. MINUSTAH forces did not target civilians in the operation on 6 July, 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 security operation.

MINUSTAH has received unconfirmed information from the Haitian National Police and other sources that gangs were seen killing civilians following MINUSTAH's operation. Subsequently, these elements attributed these atrocious acts to MINUSTAH. In any and all circumstances the United Nations condemns the killing of civilians in the strongest terms. MINUSTAH will investigate any serious allegation of the use of unnecessary force on its part, as well as of the killings allegedly perpetrated by gangs following its operation.

For further information, please, contact the Office of Public Information and Communications of MINUSTAH at tel. : (509) 510-2563 ext. : 6343 or 510- 3183/84/85, ext. : 6037- 6034-6035, or visit the MINUSTAH website at http://www.minustah.org