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At Least 3 Shot as Anti-Government Protests Continue in Haiti - 2003-12-13


Haitian police have fired tear gas to break up anti-government student protests in the capital, Port-au-Prince, in the latest demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

At least three people were shot and wounded in Friday's unrest, which happened one day after several people were injured in anti-government protests. It was not clear whether the victims were government supporters or opponents or who opened fire on them.

Witnesses say several people were also hurt by stones thrown in the latest disturbances.

Government supporters set up flaming tire barricades to block the student march, reportedly harassing drivers in the process. A U.N. official, Roromme Chantal, said his private vehicle was stolen along with his belongings.

Friday's unrest forced the closure of the U.S. Embassy and several businesses in the Haitian capital, but, two radio stations resumed news broadcasts with police posted outside their offices.

Radio Vision 2000 and Radio Metropole were among four stations that had suspended broadcasts after staff received death threats from government supporters.

Meanwhile, hundreds of flag-waving Haitians rallied Friday in the capital in support of President Aristide.

Haiti's culture and communication minister, Lilas Desquiron, issued a radio appeal, calling on the public to be responsible. Ms. Desquiron also said much of the media was waging what she called a disinformation campaign about the government.

Haitians have been taking to the streets for weeks in support of or against President Aristide. Critics say he is to blame for the country's worsening economic and political situation. Mr. Aristide says he intends to serve out his term, which ends in 2006.

Haiti has been largely paralyzed since 2000, when the president's Lavalas Party swept to power in legislative elections which the opposition says were rigged. Haiti has lost international aid as a result.

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