(AP) — Seventeen suspects have been detained in connection with Haiti's president
, with Haitian authorities saying two are believed to have dual U.S.-Haitian citizenship and Colombia
's government saying at least six are former members of its army.
Léon Charles, the chief of Haiti's National Police
, stated Thursday night that 15 of the detainees were Colombians.
According to the police chief, eight more suspects are being sought, and three others have been killed by police, whereas Charles had previously stated that seven had been killed.
“We will bring them to justice,” the police chief said, as 17 handcuffed suspects sat on the floor during a news conference
on the developments following President Jovenel Mose’s assassination at his home before dawn Wednesday.
Colombia's government said it had been questioned about six of the suspects in Haiti, including two of those killed, and determined they were retired members of its army, though it did not reveal their identities.
Colombia's national police chief, Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia, stated that President Iván Duque had directed the army and police high command to cooperate in the investigation
“A team was formed with the best investigators... they will send dates, flight times, and financial information that is already being collected to be sent to Port-au-Prince,” Vargas said.
The US State Department confirmed that it was aware of reports of Haitian Americans being detained but could not confirm or comment.
According to a document shared by Haiti's minister of elections
, Mathias Pierre, the Haitian Americans in custody have been identified as James Solages and Joseph Vincent. Solages, 35, is the youngest of the suspects, and the oldest is 55, according to the document.
On a website for a charity
he founded in 2019 in south Florida
to help people
in the Haitian coastal town of Jacmel, Solages described himself as a "certified diplomatic agent," an advocate for children
, and a budding politician. Solages previously worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian Embassy in Haiti, according to his bio page for the charity.
's foreign relations department issued a statement that did not mention Solages by name, but did say that one of the men detained for his alleged role in the killing had been "briefly employed as a reserve bodyguard" at its embassy by a private contractor.
Calls to the charity and Solages' associates at the charity went unanswered.
's foreign ministry announced that 11 armed suspects were apprehended by Haitian police early Thursday after attempting to break into the Taiwanese embassy. No information about the suspects' identities or the reason for the break-in was provided.
“Whether or not the suspects were involved in the assassination of Haiti’s President will need to be investigated by Haitian police,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou told The Associated Press
While Taiwanese diplomats were working from home, embassy security
guards alerted police, and the ministry stated that while some doors and windows were broken, the embassy suffered no other damage.
Haiti is one of only a few countries in the world that maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan rather than with the rival mainland Chinese government in Beijing
Witnesses in Port-au-Prince said a crowd discovered two suspects hiding in bushes, and some people grabbed the men by their shirts and pants
, pushed them, and occasionally slapped them. An Associated Press journalist
saw officers load the pair into the back of a pickup truck
and drive away as the crowd chased them to a police station.
People chanted outside the White House
on Thursday, "They killed the president! Give them to us! We'll burn them!"
The crowd later set fire
to several abandoned cars riddled with bullet holes, believing they belonged to the suspects; the cars lacked license plates, and one contained an empty box of bullets and some water
Later, Charles urged people to remain calm and let his officers do their jobs
, warning that authorities needed the evidence being destroyed, including the burned cars.
Officials have released
little information about the killing, except that it was carried out by “a highly trained and heavily armed group.”
When Haitian journalist Robenson Geffrard tweeted a report on the police chief's comments, he drew a flood of skepticism. Many wondered how the sophisticated attackers described by police could penetrate Mose's home, security detail, and panic room and eavesdrop.
According to the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste, a Haitian judge
involved in the investigation stated that Mose was shot a dozen times and his office and bedroom were ransacked, and that investigators discovered 5.56 and 7.62 mm cartridges between the gatehouse and the house.
Jomarlie Jovenel, Mose's daughter, hid in her brother's bedroom during the attack, and the attackers tied up a maid and another worker, according to the judge.
Interim Prime Minister
Claude Joseph, who took over Haiti's leadership with the support of the police and military
, urged people to reopen businesses and return to work
while also ordering the reopening of the international airport.
After the assassination, Joseph declared a two-week siege, shocking a nation already reeling from some of the worst poverty
, widespread violence, and political instability in the Western Hemisphere.
Haiti had become increasingly unstable under Mose, who had been ruling by decree for more than a year and faced violent protests
as critics accused him of seeking more power and the opposition demanded he resign.
The United Nations
Security Council met privately Thursday to discuss the situation in Haiti, and U.N. special envoy Helen La Lime said afterwards that Haitian officials had requested more security assistance.
Thursday, public transportation and street vendors were scarce, which was unusual for Port-au-Prince's normally bustling streets.
Marco Destin was walking to see his family
because there were no buses, known as tap-taps, available, and he was carrying a loaf of bread for them because they had not left their house since the president's assassination for fear of their lives.
“Everyone at home is sleeping with one eye open and one eye closed,” he explained, adding, “If the head of state is not protected, I have no protection at all.”
Hours after the killing, gunfire rang out intermittently across the city, a grim reminder of the growing power of gangs, which displaced more than 14,700 people last month alone as they torched and ransacked homes in a battle
According to Robert Fatton, a University
expert, gangs are a force to be reckoned with, and Haiti's security forces may be unable to enforce a state of siege.
“It’s a really explosive situation,” he declared.
Coto contributed reporting from San Juan, Puerto Rico
, and Goodman from Miami
. Associated Press videographers Pierre-Richard Luxama in Port-au-Prince and Johnson Lai in Taipei, Taiwan, also contributed.