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Posted Saturday, July 29, 2006
Refugees in their own country; hundreds flee Haiti's growing gang violence
By The Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jul. 28, 2006 -- Hundreds of people fled their homes in a hillside slum of the Haitian capital Friday to escape fierce fighting between gangs that has killed at least 30 people in the past two months, officials said.

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Residents of Grand Ravine's slum fled their homes Friday, July 28, 2006 to escape fierce fighting between rival gangs. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Families streamed away from the Grand Ravine slum with whatever they could recover from their houses -- many of which were set on fire by gangs from neighboring slums that are fighting for control of the area.

"I have no money, no house, no idea where I'm going," said Joseline Louis, a 55-year-old fruit seller.

Witnesses said at least three people were killed in recent days, but United Nations spokeswoman Sophie Boutaud de la Combe said she could not confirm any casualties.

A nearby compound run by the Haitian Evangelical Baptist Union became a makeshift refugee camp for about 300 people. The compound is three miles from Grand Ravine along roads patrolled by U.N. peacekeepers.

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Residents from the slum of Grand Ravine set in a compound run by the Haitian Evangelical Baptist Union in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday July,28,2006. Residents of Grand Ravine's slum fled their homes Friday to escape fierce fighting between rival gangs. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Florice Mepolelet, 30, squatted in the corner of the crowded compound with her two young children. She said her family has received only one bowl of rice with bean sauce from the Red Cross since fleeing the neighborhood on Thursday.

Most houses in the slum -- home to several thousand people -- appeared abandoned Friday, their tin roofs and concrete block walls blackened by fire. Blood was smeared on the door and the floor of one house.

Gang violence and kidnappings have surged in Haiti after months of relative calm following the election of President René Préval in February.

U.N. officials say the coordinated nature of the violence suggests an attempt to stir chaos by well-armed, politically aligned gangs.

Danel La Roche, 23, showed a wound in his upper back that he said was from a bullet.

"I have nothing to do with this fight," he said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The growing gang, terrorist's violence in one of Haiti's worst slums is one again prove, as we indicated before, that the extreme violence-issued government of Rene Preval is grossly incompetent, preferably lesser than an irrelevant by-stander. Related text: Terrorists must be captured dead or alive

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