A squad of gunmen assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and wounded his wife in an overnight raid on their home Wednesday.
Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the United States, said the attack on the 53-year-old Moïse “was carried out by foreign mercenaries and professional killers—well-orchestrated,” and that they were masquerading as agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA has an office in the Haitian capital to assist the government in counternarcotics programs, according to the U.S. Embassy.
Moïse’s wife, Martine, was in stable but critical condition and efforts were under way to move her to Miami for treatment, Edmond said in Washington.
He declined to comment on possible suspects or a possible motive.
Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who confirmed the killing, said the police and military were in control of security in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas where a history of dictatorship and political upheaval have long stymied the consolidation of democratic rule.
Despite Joseph’s assurances that order would prevail, there was confusion about who should take control and widespread anxiety among Haitians. Authorities declared a “state of siege” in the country and closed the international airport.
Haiti has asked the U.S. government for assistance with the investigation of the assassination, which is being led by the Haitian national police, the ambassador said. The White House has not confirmed exactly what it will provide but the ambassador has spoken to them and believes assistance will be forthcoming.
Edmond told The Associated Press that Haiti has also repeated a request made months earlier for additional security assistance.