220511 Haiti
Burnt out vehicles sit on the side of a road in La Plaine neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, May 6, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Port-au-Prince: At least 148 people have killed in the Haitian capital, some of them burned alive, since two rival gangs launched an all out turf war late last month, a human rights organization said on Tuesday.

“At least 148 people were murdered, including seven bandits (...) executed by their leader,” between April 24 and the beginning of May, declared the National Network for the Defence of Human Rights (RNDDH), after an investigation carried out in the northern neighbourhoods of the capital where the gang war has raged.

Denouncing “a massacre of incredible cruelty,” the rights group said people were killed by bullets and knives, while some victims were burned alive “inside their own torched houses” or “in the streets, with tyres.”

“Most of the murdered women and girls had been raped before” they were killed, it said.

The Haitian organization said it knew of a mass grave with 30 corpses, buried by one of the gangs because the bodies had been left in the street to rot under the blazing Caribbean sun. Other bodies were thrown by the killers into wells or latrines.

The United Nations said last Friday that it had learned of the killing of at least 75 civilians in this latest upsurge of violence, including women and children.

At least 9,000 residents of the afflicted neighborhoods have fled their homes and taken refuge with relatives or in temporary sites, such as churches and schools.

While the violence has abated somewhat in recent days, most of the people who fled have not yet returned to their homes, for fear of a resumption of violence.

For several decades, armed gangs have been raging in the poorest neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, but they have drastically tightened their hold on the city and the country in recent years, sending the rates of murder and kidnapping skyrocketing.

More than two weeks since the outbreak began, the Haitian government has still not commented on the violence which has placed the capital in a state of siege, preventing any safe exit by road to the rest of the country.