(CMR) Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse was killed in an attack on his home in the nation's capital early Wednesday morning, the country's interim prime minister has announced.
Claude Joseph said unidentified armed men stormed the president's home in Port-au-Prince at about 1 am.
First Lady Martine Moïse was also injured in the attack; she was flown out of the country for treatment Wednesday afternoon.
“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,” Joseph said.
Haiti's President of the Supreme Court would normally be next in line, but he recently died of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Joseph, who has now taken control of the country, said that “all measures had been taken to guarantee the continuity of the state.”
He called the shooting of the president a “heinous, inhuman and barbaric act.
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, Reuters reported.
Following the assassination of the president, the Dominican Republic said it was closing the border it shares with Haiti on the island of Hispaniola.
There are widespread fears that violence in the impoverished nation could worsen.
The US Embassy said in a statement it would be closed on Wednesday due to the “ongoing security situation,” Reuters reported.
The United States is assessing the “tragic attack,” and President Joe Biden will be briefed on the assassination, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in Washington.
“UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he was “shocked and saddened at the death of Mr. Moïse,” calling it “an abhorrent act” and appealing for calm.