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Haitian Police Regain Control of 11 Towns

Police in Haiti say they have regained control in three of 11 towns seized by armed gangs over the past few days. Widespread violence is reported in several towns in western and northern Haiti, as police and government supporters battle opposition gangs. More than 40 people have died since the violence began last week. The United Nations is warning of a humanitarian crisis if the violence does not end soon.

Police consolidated their control over the town of St. Marc on Tuesday, about 70 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince and also the nearby town of Grand Goave.

In the northern port city of Cap Haitien, Haiti's second largest city, supporters of Haiti's government and police attacked suspected government opponents on Tuesday.

So far police have not said when they will move against armed gangs who seized the western port city of Gonaives, last Thursday. Speaking at a news conference in the capital on Tuesday, Haiti's Secretary of State for Defense, Jean Gerard Dubreuil said when authorities do move against the rioters they will move with efficiency.

Mr. Dubreuil says police are facing small groups of demonstrators who are using civilians as shields when they attack the authorities.

The violence over the past week is the worst to strike Haiti in a decade. Much of the violence is the work of gangs in Gonaives, and surrounding areas, who were once considered staunch supporters of Haiti's President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

Over the past six months, a growing coalition of anti-Aristide business leaders, politicians and members of civil society groups, have been protesting against Mr. Aristide's government - saying it is guilty of human rights abuses, mismanagement and corruption. The charges are disputed by Mr. Aristide and his supporters. The protesters have called on Mr. Aristide to step down two years before his term officially expires, something he says he has no intention of doing. Opposition groups in Port-au-Prince have condemned the violence now under way in large parts of the Haitian countryside.

Meanwhile U.N. officials are warning that vital food delivery supplies are being disrupted to the point where Haiti will soon face a humanitarian crisis if the violence is not brought under control soon.