Deadly protests erupt in Haiti as cholera death toll nears 1,000
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Violent protests have erupted in Haiti over a cholera epidemic that claimed nearly 1,000 lives, sparking clashes with UN peacekeepers that left at least two men dead, officials said.
The clashes between rock-hurling protesters and UN peacekeepers erupted in Cap-Haitien, the country's second largest city, and in the central town of Hinche, where crowds blamed the United Nations for the cholera epidemic.
In Cap-Haitien, doctors and police said around a dozen people were being treated for bullet wounds, with some in serious condition.
A 20-year-old man was killed outside a UN base in Cap-Haitien's Quartier-Morin during clashes between protesters and peacekeepers who fired tear gas to try to disperse the crowd.
Police have also confirmed the death of another young Haitian who they say was killed by gunfire on a street in Cap-Haitien during the clashes.
Late Monday, the UN Mission in Haiti issued a statement suggesting that the protests could be politically motivated ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.
"The way the events unfolded leads to the belief that these incidents were politically motivated, aimed at creating a climate of insecurity ahead of the elections," it said.
Meanwhile, officials fear the cholera epidemic could spread exponentially if it infiltrates relocation camps around the capital where hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors are living.
Some 200 cholera deaths have been reported in the north and 100 in Cap-Haitien, health officials said. Schools in Cap-Haitien are closed as parents are refusing to send children to class, fearing they may get sick.
A UN official said there are now cholera cases in every one of Haiti's 10 departments and warned that aid agencies were expecting a significant increase in the number of infections.
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