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5 Americans arrested in Haiti

Posted: 8:09 AM, Feb 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-18 14:09:44Z

Haiti Foreign Minister Bocchit Edmond confirmed Monday that five Americans on the island have been arrested.

Local authorities told CNN the Americans are being held on conspiracy charges, but have not been formally charged by Haitian authorities.

Three other people have been arrested, two foreign nationals and one Haitian, Edmond said.

The identities of the people taken into custody were not immediately available.

The country's capital, Port-au-Prince, has been rocked by deadly protests since February 7. Haitians have been on the streets, torching cars, clashing with police demanding President Jovenel Moise and the prime minister resign.

Moise's administration has been under fire for soaring inflation and accusations of corruption.

In a Saturday night televised address, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant called for calm and promised to uncover the corruption -- which for many is at the root of the country's problems.

Referring to the government's own auditor's report into how revenues from Venezuelan subsidized oil were siphoned off, he said: "Corruption is one of the biggest problems. We need to fight corruption."

The US State Department on Thursday issued a Level 4 "Do not travel" travel advisory for Haiti, citing "crime and civil unrest" and "widespread, violent, and unpredictable demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti."

The State Department ordered all "non-emergency US personnel and their families" to leave Haiti, saying the country has "limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Haiti."

"Protests, tire burning and road blockages are frequent and unpredictable," the advisory stated.

"Violent crime, such as armed robbery, is common. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents, and emergency response, including ambulance service, is limited or non-existent."