Protests Over Haiti's Cholera Outbreak Turn Violent

"(CNN)
Protesters angry over the government's handling of the cholera outbreak clashed Monday with peacekeepers in Cap Haitien, residents and officials in the northern coastal city told CNN.

Schools and banks were closed, and gunfire ricocheted through the streets, they said.

Vincenzo Pugliese, a spokesman for MINUSTAH, the United Nations' stabilization mission in Haiti, said anti-riot police were coping with the demonstrations, which he said began in the morning in at least two separate locations and had not caused any fatalities among peacekeepers or the population. ""Apparently, some people were injured by bottles or stones,"" he said.

""We are facing the consequences of a cholera epidemic and in two weeks the elections, so the population is scared,"" he said. ""It's a volatile situation.""

He pointed to the fact that demonstrations began in separate areas as evidence that the outbreak was not spontaneous.""Right now, security forces ... seem to have control already of the situation,"" he said.

He said he had received an unconfirmed report that a police station had been torched. ""I think there was an attempt on that but whether they managed to burn it, I don't know,"" he said.

""It's not safe to walk in the streets,"" Marc George, a resident of Cap Haitien, told CNN by telephone. ""All the schools and banks are closed. People are fighting the soldiers of MINUSTAH.""

The demonstrations began after rumors spread that a Nepalese contingent of peacekeepers may have spread the disease, he said. ""So they attack them,"" he said. ""The people were shooting."" "