11 gunmen storm Taiwan embassy in Haiti

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Five of the suspects arrested at the Taiwan embassy. (PNH photo) Five of the suspects arrested at the Taiwan embassy. (PNH photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Nearly a dozen gunmen believed to be involved in the assassination of Haiti’s president forced their way into the Taiwan embassy on Thursday (July 8) but have since been arrested, and no injuries have been reported.

Taiwan’s embassy in Port-au-Prince has been closed since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on Wednesday (July 7), with staff working from home. However, Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) told Taiwan News that early Thursday morning the embassy’s security team discovered a band of armed men had breached the facility’s security perimeter.

The men had managed to make their way past the security guard station and entered the embassy’s courtyard. Upon discovering the breach, security personnel immediately notified embassy staff and the Haitian police.

Embassy staff approved a request from the Haitian government to deploy police into the compound to conduct a search for the suspects. Police launched the operation at 4 p.m. that afternoon and apprehended 11 armed suspects, according to Ou.

Based on an initial inspection, the embassy sustained some minor damage during the intrusion, including broken windows and doors. However, Ou made it clear that no staff members were in the embassy at the time.

The Haitian National Police have since taken the men into custody for questioning. It is currently unclear why the men targeted the Taiwan embassy.

Haiti 24 released images of five of the suspects who had been arrested at the embassy. Among these is 35-year-old Haitian-American James Solages, one of two American citizens believed to have been involved in the assassination.

According to the AyiboPost, Haitian authorities believe 28 mercenaries took part in the assassination, including 26 Colombians and two Americans. Thus far, authorities have captured 17 suspects, including 15 Colombians and the two Americans, and killed three, leaving eight allegedly still on the run.

Leon Charles, the country’s interim national police chief, said the goal now is to track down the masterminds behind the crime. The following are the identities of some of the suspects captured by the government thus far, as reported by the AyiboPost:

11 gunmen arrested at Taiwan embassy in Haiti

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How did Taiwan become embroiled in Haiti’s political crisis?

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Neither Taiwan nor China accepts diplomatic relations with a country that recognizes the other, after the two split decades earlier in a civil war. In 1949, after being defeated by Mao Zedong’s Communist troops in China’s mainland, Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists, known as the Kuomintang, fled to Taiwan and took up residence. The island has since grown into a resilient democracy and a crucial cog in the global tech industry, despite not being recognized as a country by most of the world.