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Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Gunmen in Haiti brutally kill Italian businessman
By Myrna Domit, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Aug. 8, 2006 - Gunmen in Haiti have killed an Italian businessman and kidnapped his wife, the latest victims of a wave of violence in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

A group of armed men entered the couple's villa Monday in the capital, Port-au-Prince, shooting 67-year-old Guido Vitiello and leaving him tied to a chair before abducting his wife Gigliola Martino, the Italian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. Vitiello died later in a hospital.

Investigators believe Martino, 65, was kidnapped for ransom and the Italian ambassador in the neighboring Dominican Republic, Enrico Guicciardi, has been dispatched to Port-au-Prince to assist the family and keep contacts with local authorities, the ministry said.

"At the moment I cannot say too much about the situation but I can tell you it's under control," Guicciardi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "We truly hope that she is freed tonight and we hope to save her life."

Martino was briefly kidnapped last year and released unharmed. She has been living in Haiti for about 30 years with her husband and two children.

"We are under tremendous pressure, anguished and stressed," said Martino's cousin, Assunta Capuccio.

"Our family is going through a lot of agony and grief. This is our country, we were born here and we are not moving anywhere else once this situation is resolved," added Capuccio, 50, who gathered with other relatives at the couple's villa.

Separately, the Organization of American States said Tuesday that a 47-year-old Haitian security guard working for the OAS electoral program was stabbed to death in a robbery in Port-au-Prince Saturday.

"This was a gratuitous and repugnant crime closely related to the increase in violence in the Haitian capital," said Jose Miguel Insulza, the organization's secretary-general.

In recent days, heavy shooting between warring gangs has raged in parts of Port-au-Prince. Much of the gunfire has been along a main road leading to the capital's airport.

Haiti experienced relative calm after President Rene Preval's February election. Since May, however, dozens of foreigners and Haitians have been kidnapped and gang fighting has forced hundreds to flee their homes in the capital.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press

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