Thousands protest to demand the government of PM Ariel Henry do more to address gang violence including constant kidnappings in the Caribbean country.

Officials say a group of people got onto the terminal's tarmac, attacked the plane and set it on fire.
Officials say a group of people got onto the terminal's tarmac, attacked the plane and set it on fire. (Reuters)

Haitians have taken to the streets to protest rising insecurity, with demonstrations turning violent in the southern city of Les Cayes where people stormed the airport and attacked a small plane owned by a US missionary group.

At least one person died and five others were injured, including four police officers, in the confrontation between protesters and authorities in Les Cayes on Tuesday, said Gedeon Chery, a National Police inspector assigned to the city's airport.

Chery told The Associated Press the person killed was a protester who was shot, but he didn't say whether police were responsible.

The protests coincided with the 35th anniversary of Haiti's 1987 Constitution and follow other protests and strikes in recent weeks amid a spike in gang-related kidnappings and complaints about Prime Minister Ariel Henry's inability to confront gangs. 

On his Twitter account, Henry condemned the violence in Les Cayes and said he has ordered authorities to look for the people behind it.

READ MORE: Haiti's healthcare workers hold strike over increased kidnappings

'They thought it was a politicians plane'

Chery, the police inspector, said a group of people had gotten onto the terminal's tarmac, attacked the plane and set it on fire.

A video posted on social media showed some people on the plane's fuselage while the red-and-white aircraft was moving on the tarmac, and others running alongside it. Chery said he didn't know why they attacked it.

Agape Flights, a Christian ministry transporting supplies to missionaries in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, said in a statement that "Our team is safe."

It said Agape’s Chieftain aircraft was destroyed and they are preparing to bring the ministry's team back to the US

"Our missionary affiliates are hearing that they thought it was a politicians plane they were destroying,” the statement said.

People also protested in Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince, where some burned tires. Protesters also criticised how Henry has not been able to control insecurity.

"He has nothing left to offer but words and more baseless words," said Marie-Andre Michelle, one of the people who marched in Port-au-Prince.

READ MORE: Haiti observes strike over kidnappings, insecurity

180% percent increase in violence

Violence has increased over the past year despite the prime minister's pledges to crack down on insecurity.

Kidnappings in Haiti increased 180 percent in 2021, with 655 of them reported to police, according to a mid-February report by the UN Security Council. Authorities believe the number could be higher since many kidnappings go unreported.

Along with violence, Haiti has been also dealing with the ongoing sluggish investigation of President Jovenel Moise's killing last July 7, and a magnitude-7.2 earthquake that killed over 2,200 people in the country’s south last August.

READ MORE: Gangs of Haiti: Why are they so powerful?

Source: AP