- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

GONAIVES, Haiti — Haiti’s rebellion spread to the central city of Hinche yesterday as rebels aided by former soldiers attacked a police station and killed at least three officers, including the police chief.

The rebels descended on the police station in Hinche, about 70 miles northeast of Port-au-Prince, according to a Haitian security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. They killed district police Chief Maxime Jonas, pushed police out of the city and threatened government supporters, the official said.

At least 56 persons have died since the rebellion aimed at ousting President Jean-Bertrand Aristide exploded Feb. 5 in the city of Gonaives.

Rebels armed with machetes and rifles escorted an aid convoy led by the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross into Gonaives yesterday. The convoy was carrying 1.6 tons of supplies, including blood and surgical equipment.

A surgeon and another physician were also sent to treat about 40 people wounded in the fighting.

In addition to the medical relief, the international nongovernmental organization CARE began distributing food to people in Gonaives.

The rebels began the revolt from Gonaives, 70 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince, unleashing a deadly wave of violence that has spread to more than a dozen towns.

Although the rebels are thought to number less than Haiti’s 5,000-member police force, exiled paramilitary leaders and police have joined their forces, vowing to oust Mr. Aristide.

“They have joined us. We have created a national resistance,” Winter Etienne, one of the rebel leaders in Gonaives, said yesterday. “We’re going to take a major part of Haiti.”

Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a former Haitian soldier who led a paramilitary group known as the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, or FRAPH, which killed and maimed hundreds of people between 1991 and 1994, is among those helping the rebels.

Also helping is Guy Philippe, a former police chief who fled to the Dominican Republic after being accused by the Haitian government of fomenting a coup in 2002.

In an attempt to keep police and government supporters out, the rebels have used shipping containers to block the highway leading into Gonaives. The blockades have halted most food, fuel and medical shipments to more than 250,000 people.

Discontent has grown in this Caribbean country of 8 million people since Mr. Aristide’s party swept flawed legislative elections in 2000 and international donors froze millions of dollars in aid.

While there has been no reported rise in the numbers of Haitians leaving for U.S. shores, Mr. Aristide’s wife — U.S.-born Mildred Trouillot Aristide — reportedly flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., over the weekend. Haitian press liaison Michelle Karshan said the first lady attended a funeral but returned yesterday.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Friday the United States and other nations “will accept no outcome that … attempts to remove the elected president of Haiti.”

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