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Posted Monday, July 2, 2007
Fire destroys Port-au-Prince marketplace
By The Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - A fire ravaged a marketplace in Haiti's capital, prompting a protest march Monday by hundreds of street vendors who accused the city government of setting the blaze to remove them from the area.

The fire began Sunday night near Port-Au-Prince's cathedral, destroying merchandise including fruit, radios and televisions.

"We knew the mayor wanted to clean up this area and move the marketplace, but they never told us what day we should move," vendor Julio Alexis said.

City officials did not immediately return calls for comment or make a public statement. Haitian police firing shots in the air broke up the demonstration.

Some vendors said their sales at the market were their only source of income. "Nothing remains," said TV repairman Philippe Audosit.

People scrounged through the market's ruins Monday for aluminum and zinc roofs, under the watch of police and U.N. soldiers.

More than 80 percent of the 8.7 million residents live in poverty in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

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