GONAIVES, Haiti – Haiti's rebellion spread to the central city of Hinche on Monday 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 northwest of Port-au-Prince, according to a Haitian security official who spoke on condition of anonymity. They killed district police chief Maxime Jonas, pushed police out of the city and threatened government supporters, the official said.
Rebels armed with machetes and rifles escorted an aid convoy led by the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (search) into Gonaives on Monday. The convoy was carrying 1.6 tons of supplies, including blood and surgical equipment.
A surgeon and a physician were also sent to treat some 40 people wounded in the fighting.
"We are here to bring urgently needed medical assistance to Gonaives," Pedro Isely, leader of the Red Cross mission in Haiti, said Monday after arriving in the city.
In addition to the medical relief, the international non-governmental organization, CARE (search), began distributing food to people in Gonaives. About 50,000 people will receive a gallon of vegetable oil, while others will get sacks of cereals, said Sandy Laumark, director of CARE in Haiti. The distribution will last about 10 days.
The rebels launched the rebellion from Gonaives, 70 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince, unleashing a deadly wave of violence that has spread to more than a dozen towns. Both sides have suffered casualties.
On Sunday night, Aristide loyalists reportedly killed two anti-government supporters in the port town of St. Marc.
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 Aristide.
"They have joined us. We have created a national resistance," Winter Etienne, one of the rebel leaders in Gonaives, said Monday. "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.
"We don't have any platform," said Philippe, 35, in an interview taped Saturday that was obtained by Associated Press Television News. "Our fight is for a better country ... We are fighting for the presidency, we're fighting for the people."
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.
The unrest has also affected hospitals. In St. Marc, rebels torched a clinic. In Gonaives, a gunbattle between police and rebels left three dead inside the hospital.
Hospital administrator Gabriel Honorat said the wounded are being cared for in their homes.
"We have no medicine. It is urgent," he said.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (search), or Doctors Without Borders, is sending 16 tons of medical equipment to Haiti. The supplies consist mainly of surgical and dressing kits for hospitals and clinics helped by the aid group, said Erwin Vantland, a spokesman.
Discontent has grown in this Caribbean country of 8 million people since Aristide's party swept flawed legislative elections in 2000 and international donors froze millions of dollars.
The unrest has deepened as more people have taken sides in the fight.
While there has been no reported rise in the numbers of Haitians leaving for U.S. shores, Aristide's wife — U.S.-born Mildred Trouillot Aristide — reportedly flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida over the weekend. Haitian press liaison Michelle Karshan said the first lady attended a funeral but returned on Monday. The couple has two children.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday the United States and other nations "will accept no outcome that ... attempts to remove the elected president of Haiti."
The United States sent 20,000 troops to Haiti in 1994 to end a bloody military dictatorship, restore Aristide and halt an exodus of refugees to Florida.
Opposition politicians refuse to participate in new elections unless Aristide steps down, and the rebels say they will lay down their weapons only when he is ousted.