The United States is strongly condemning the political violence in Haiti and appealing to the various factions there to support peace efforts by the Caribbean grouping Caricom and the Organization of American States. U.S. officials blame the surging unrest in part on armed gangs allied to President Jean Bertrand-Aristide.

U.S. officials are watching the violence in Haiti with alarm and are appealing to all those involved in the escalating civil conflict to support peace efforts by the OAS, Caricom and the country's Roman Catholic church leaders.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher opened Monday's regular press briefing with a volunteered statement strongly condemning the latest wave of Haitian violence, and deploring the loss of life in towns affected by the loosely-organized revolt against the Aristide government.

"We call on the government of Haiti to respect the rights, especially the human rights, of all citizens and residents of Haiti. And we call on all Haitians to respect the law. The problems of Haiti will not be solved by violence and retribution. Only through dialogue, negotiation and compromise can Haiti find a solution to its problems. The United States fully supports the efforts of Caricom and of the Organization of American States through its special mission to Haiti to promote a peaceful and democratic resolution of the current crisis that can be supported by all the Haitian people," he said.

Spokesman Boucher said the United States is actively engaged in efforts to halt the violence through the OAS and contacts by U.S. diplomats in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

He said under questioning there has been no personal intervention by senior Bush administration officials since the uprising against Mr. Aristide erupted late last week, and said in any case the situation was too complex to be resolved by a few calls from Washington.

He said both President Bush and Secretary of State Powell pressed Mr. Aristide to enter into dialogue with the political opposition when they met him and other Caribbean leaders on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas last month in Monterrey, Mexico.

Mr. Boucher said U.S. officials believe the Arisitide government has contributed to the violence by responding to unrest in various towns with both police and pro-Aristide gangs.

But he signaled little sympathy with opposition groups who have torched police stations and engaged in looting sprees, saying there are "thugs" at work on both sides of the conflict.