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Haitian Protesters Clash with Police For Third Day - 2003-09-26

Police and demonstrators in Haiti clashed for a third day Thursday over the killing of a local gang leader and former supporter of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Local news reports say protesters and police exchanged gunfire Thursday in the northwestern port town of Gonaives. Police have not commented on the situation, and there are no confirmed reports of injuries or arrests. Schools, public buildings and businesses remained closed.

The violent demonstrations erupted earlier this week after the bullet-riddled body of local gang leader Amiot Metayer was found on a roadside late Monday.

After escaping from prison last August, the gang leader accused President Aristide of betraying Haiti's people and called on them to rise up against the government.

Analysts say the change in attitude toward the president by Metayer's supporters signals a rift between Mr. Aristide and Haiti's street activists, who had been key allies.

Haiti is mired in a long-running dispute over legislative elections and has lost foreign aid as a result.