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#11: Gunmen Occupy Haiti Orphanage (fwd)
Thursday June 24 5:58 PM ET
Gunmen Occupy Haiti Orphanage
By MICHAEL NORTON Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Gunmen occupied an orphanage run by former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Thursday, demanding jobs and
accusing the Haitian politician of making money off their misfortune.
Police fired tear gas into the Family is Life center for homeless
children, but they did not storm the building for fear that some
300 children there might be hurt.A private security guard said a small
group of young men who had graduated from the orphanage entered the
center around midnight, armed with hand grenades, pistols and machetes.
Thursday morning, about 40 protesters supporting the gunmen entered the
orphanage, in midtown Port-au-Prince, the guard said.Some of the
protesters threw stones and bottles at passing vehicles, when police
responded by firing tear gas. One police officer and four youths were
injured in the hail of rocks. About 30 young men who ventured outside
the center were detained.``They lied to us!'' some of the protesters
shouted to reporters, saying they had been promised work after
graduation at 18.Eighty percent of Haiti's 7 million people are
unemployed or underemployed and there are about 4,000 homeless children
in Port au-Prince.``Aristide is making money off us,'' they said,
referring to local and international aid that Aristide receives to help
run the center,which he founded in 1986.``The graduates are gangsters,''
Aristide spokesman Dany Toussaint responded on Radio Metropole.
He said they had been ``paid to create problems'' and smear Aristide's
reputation.Police officials say the protests are aimed at creating
unrest in the runup to November legislative elections that could help
resolve a 21/2-year power struggle between opponents of Aristide and the
man he hand-picked to succeed him, President Rene Preval.