President Jovenel Moise has appealed for “calm” after seven people including six Haitian nationals were injured during a shooting incident along a border crossing with the Dominican Republic.
“I regret the incidents that occurred on the border in Belladère, following a territorial violation, during which compatriots were injured. I ask the people of Belladère to keep calm. Instructions have been given to the competent authorities to accompany victims and border residents in general,” Moise said.
Moise later issued a statement on his Twitter page saying “I deplore the incidents that occurred on the border at Belladère, following a territorial violation, during which compatriots were injured. The authorities are instructed to take the appropriate measures to respect the territorial integrity of the Republic of Haiti”.
But the Ministry of Defense in the Dominican Republic described as “inappropriate” the statements of Moise and categorically denied that Dominican soldiers had violated the Haitian territory.
The Ministry of Defence said the incident occurred at the border crossing of Carrizal more precisely in the neutral zone called “The chain”, where the circulation of vehicles and goods is not allowed to pass on the side of the Haitian territory.
“We will not authorize any action threatening the security and defense of our nation, nor the violations of tax and migration regulations,” the Defence Minister, Paulino Sem, said.
Media reports indicate that the incident on Saturday came after Haitian nationals clashed with Dominica Republic land border security (CESFRONT) officials when three cement trucks destined for Haiti were stopped by Dominican Customs officers for regularity checks.
The reports said that while the Dominican drivers were willing to pay the Customs duties, they were prevented from doing so by Haitian drivers.
“We repelled the aggression and we inform our superiors that they send more reinforcements because the number of Haitians exceeded that of the military forces responsible for the surveillance of the zone,” a CESFRONT report said.
During the shooting, at least six Haitians and a Dominican soldier were wounded.
Haitian and Dominican Republic officials have since met to discuss the incident and according to the Minister of the Interior, Jean Marie Reynaldo Brunet, Haiti wanted a preliminary investigation into the incident.
“Dominican soldiers would have fired at the level of men in response to shots made by a Haitian citizen,” he said, adding that he had asked the Dominican Embassy in Haiti to explain the regrettable incident.