Haitian President Jovenel Moise was shot dead by unidentified attackers in his private residence overnight in a “barbaric act”, the government said on Wednesday, stirring fears of escalating turmoil in the impoverished Caribbean nation.
Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has taken over rule in Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
The assassination coincided with a wave of gang violence in Port-au-Prince as armed groups have battled with police and one another for control of the streets in recent months, turning many districts of the capital into no-go zones.
The 53-year-old president’s wife, Martine Moise, was also shot in the attack that took place around 1 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and was receiving medical treatment, Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said in a statement.
“A group of unidentified individuals, some of them speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the president of the republic and thus fatally wounded the head of state,” he said.
Condemning the incident Joseph has called for calm, saying the police and the country’s armed forces had taken control of the security situation.
Moise has ruled by decree for more than a year after the country failed to hold legislative elections and wanted to push through a controversial constitutional reform.