Leon Charles, director general of the Haitian National Police (PNH), announced on Thursday that "It was a commando of 28 attackers, including 26 Colombians who carried out the operation to assassinate the president." He specified that two Americans and 15 Colombians had been arrested, three Colombians had been killed and eight others remained at large.
"Weapons and materials used by the assailants have been recovered," he added.
Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano Aponte said later that the suspected murderers of Moïse are retired Colombian military.
"Over the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, Interpol has asked today the Colombian government and national police to share the information about perpetrators of this crime. The preliminary information shows that these are Colombian citizens, retired military of the national army," the minister wrote on his Twitter page on late Thursday.
He added that the Colombian government had told police and the army to immediately assist in the investigation.
The embassy of the partially-recognized Republic of China (Taiwan) to Haiti announced later on Friday that 11 suspected assassins of President Moise were arrested on its territory.
According to the mission, on early Thursday, Haitian police asked the mission for a permit to conduct an operation on its grounds to search the suspected attackers.
Earlier on Thursday, Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s minister of elections and inter-party relations, identified one of the men captured by police as James Solages, an American citizen, and said that a second man was believed to be a Haitian-American. The US State Department has not yet confirmed Solages' American citizenship.
Initial reports based on a video and eyewitnesses indicated the assassins were "foreigners" who spoke Spanish and English and identified themselves as agents of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), a US federal police agency.
The DEA, created in 1973 and formally tasked with disrupting the drug trade, commonly operates in other nations and trains and behaves as a largely independent paramilitary outfit. The DEA has long operated in Colombia, targeting the country's coca growers and drug lords. However, Bocchit Edmond, Haiti's ambassador to the United States, told Sputnik there was "no way" they were DEA agents.
"They were pretending themselves to be the agents of the DEA operation. We know it's false because they just wanted to mask the horrible act," he said.
In the wake of the president's death, acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph, a Moïse appointee, has been recognized as the country's de facto leader by the United Nations until new elections for president and parliament can be organized. Joseph has implemented a two-week state of emergency, giving the police broad powers to chase down the perpetrators. Charles said Thursday night at the presser that "We will strengthen our investigation and search techniques to intercept the other eight mercenaries."
Elected in 2015 in a disputed election whose resolution delayed his inauguration by a year, Moïse faced mass protests during nearly all of his tenure as president, but especially in the last year. Moïse had effectively ruled by decree since January 2020, when he allowed parliament's mandate to expire without holding new elections, and in February 2021 he continued to remain in power despite the country's highest court ruling his term to be over. Huge protests saw Haitians demand Moïse step down and that the US stop backing his claim to power.
The US, UN, World Bank and other international organizations have pledged their support for the interim Haitian government. "We stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that's needed," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
However, the most fervent calls for involvement came from the editorial board of the Washington Post, which wrote Wednesday evening that "swift and muscular intervention is needed" because, "simply put, there is no one with any real authority in position to run the country."
"To prevent a meltdown that could have dire consequences, the United States and other influential parties - including France, Canada and the Organization of American States - should push for an international peacekeeping force, probably organized by the United Nations, that could provide the security necessary for presidential and parliamentary elections to go forward this year, as planned," argued the newspaper, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man and founder of Amazon.
Haiti was once a colony of France, but its massive African slave population rose up in revolution and won independence in 1804, establishing a republic. However, the country, destroyed by war, was not allowed to recover after surrounding nations like the United States, which still kept Black people enslaved, ostracized Haiti, turning it into an international pariah. Repeated military interventions ever since have kept the country poor and pliant to US business interests, like the Clinton Global Initiative, which critics say put the interests of international corporations' sweatshops and mines over those of the Haitian people while directing the rebuilding effort in the wake of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.