Haitian police arrest 39 in attacks that killed five officers
Officials in President Aristide's party have alleged the opposition
is plotting a coup with the former army
BY MICHAEL NORTON
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Opposition leaders Wednesday accused the government of targeting its members after police detained 39 people in connection with separate attacks that left five police officers dead.
The attacks at the police academy and three police stations on the weekend were carried out by men with camouflage clothing who called for loyalty to Haiti's disbanded army. Fourteen people were wounded.
``Most of them [the detainees] are Convergence partisans and members,'' said Mischa Gaillard, spokesman for the 15-party opposition alliance, who added the attacks and detentions were meant to ``engulf the opposition in a wave of terror.'' It was unclear whether anyone had been charged.
Among those detained was a provincial Convergence coordinator, Ebert Cerufin, who was jailed Sunday in Hinche, about 50 miles northwest of the capital. The same day, police arrested unsuccessful lower-house opposition candidate Duce Nicolas in Belladere, a town near the border Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic.
On Wednesday, four Haitians who crossed the border applied for political asylum. They said they were opponents of Aristide.
Officials in President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ruling Lavalas Family party have alleged the opposition is plotting a coup with the former army, but the opposition denies that and questions whether the attackers were even former soldiers.
``The police force is riddled with conflict and highly politicized. It's not impossible the attacks were perpetrated by disgruntled police officers,'' Gaillard said.
Four of those 39 arrested were police officers but it was unclear what their alleged role in the attacks was.
On Tuesday afternoon, police arrested Officer Mario Andresol, the former head of the police investigative division and a former army officer.