On Sunday, on the first day of Carnival, a multiday music and dance festival, heavily armed police officers took to the streets and exchanged shots with government forces, media reported. Tear gas has been also fired at the site but it was not immediately clear who used it.
According to HaitiLibre, a local news agency, at least 12 people sustained injuries, including two or three police officers. Three cars were set on fire at street Chavanne, in front of Radio Télé Caraïbes.
Feb. 23, 2020: Residents of #Haiti's capital prepare for a long night of insecurity following running gun battles in the streets between on-duty/off-duty police officers and gangs today. pic.twitter.com/kgC5ttG6MT— Haiti Information Project 📡 (@HaitiInfoProj) February 24, 2020
"No money for police officers but enough money for Carnival", protesters said as quoted by Reuters, adding that they receive inadequate pay and no benefits.
The local government issued a statement strongly condemning the violence, calling it an attack against freedom and democracy.
"Terror reigned in certain areas", the statement, obtained by the news agency, said. "Streets were obstructed and there was a war-like situation at the Champ de Mars (square), where heavy weapons fire was heard almost all day."
Anti-government demonstrations started in early September because of fuel shortages, with the opposition gaining momentum since the nation's President Jovenel Moise won the 2017 presidential election, which had allegedly been tarnished by fraud.