One killed in clashes between armed group and U.N. forces in Haiti

Port-au-Prince (dpa) - At least one person was killed Friday in clashes between an armed group and Brazilian troops on the United Nations peacekeping force in Haiti, the military command said.
The man killed was one of six armed aggressors who ambushed a peacekeeping patrol in the district of Bel-Air, said U.N. force assistant commander, Brazilian General Jorge Smicelato.

In view of the constant attacks and kidnappings in Bel-Air, the U.N. force has set up a permanent station there as well as in Cite Soleil, considered to be bastions of supporters of deposed former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Friday's attack came a day after U.N. troops said violence had notably diminished in the Haitian capital.

''We have noted an improvement in the situation of violence that prevails in Port-au-Prince,'' Lieutenant Colonel Elouafi Boulbars, a spokesman for U.N. troops, said.

However, Boulbars said that the nearly 6,300 blue helmets deployed in Haiti were insufficient to maintain security in the country.

According to police, more than 350 people have been kidnapped since March. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has estimated that more than 700 people have been killed since last September.

The violence has been staged by armed groups demanding the return of Aristide, who was ousted in February 2004 and lives in exile in Africa. Other rebels include former members of the now-defunct Haitian army.

Amnesty International warned in a report this week that nearly 17,000 weapons were in the hands of rebel groups in Haiti and were being used to kidnap, sexually abuse and assassinate Haitians ''with absolute impunity''.

The rights group warned that if disarmament and effective justice were not carried out in Haiti, the country would sink into crisis.

U.N. forces, the justice ministry and other international groups launched a disarmament programme, but only 350 former army members handed in their arms in a symbolic act in Cap Haitien. dpa am tc


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