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Haitian Capital Calm but Tense


The Haitian capital is calm but tense after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide urged supporters to stop looting and violence.

Mr. Aristide made the appeal after armed pro-government gangs ransacked Port-au-Prince's seaport and attacked its only functioning hospital. At least six people were killed in violence, some by shots to the head.

The U.S. Embassy late Friday urged Mr. Aristide to convince his supporters to end their rampage, saying his ""honor, legacy and reputation" were at stake.

The embassy also called on rebels to halt their advance toward the capital. The Associated Press reports rebel leader Guy Philippe has said his men will wait for a day or two while they give peace a chance.

Since their uprising against the government began February 5, the rebels have seized more than half of Haiti. They have vowed to march on the capital unless President Aristide resigns.

But the Haitian leader again refused to step down Saturday.

The international community is putting increasing pressure on President Aristide to resign. In Washington Friday, President Bush said he was still seeking a political solution to the crisis, but stopped short of directly calling on Mr. Aristide to step down.

The United States says there are contingency plans for a multi-national force to enter Haiti if a political settlement appears possible.

The Pentagon says it could send 2,000 Marines to the waters off the Caribbean island aboard amphibious ships, to help evacuate Americans and provide humanitarian assistance. But senior U.S. military officials say no decisions have been made.