U.S. Marines Shoot, Injure Two in Haiti's Capital

U.S. Marines shot and wounded two men who did not stop at a checkpoint in Haiti's (search) volatile capital, a military spokesman said Sunday.

A French Legionnaire was accidentally shot and killed by another French soldier who was cleaning his rifle. It was the first fatality for international peacekeepers in Haiti, the U.S. military said in a statement Sunday.

The soldier was wounded Saturday night in northern Gonaives (search), where he was working with the Third French Foreign Legion Infantry Regiment. He was flown by helicopter to a French ship off Haiti's coast, where he later died.

French forces were investigating the accident.

The latest U.S. Marine shooting occurred late Saturday in Port-au-Prince's (search) Pont Morin residential neighborhood half an hour after a 10 p.m. curfew imposed by international peacekeepers, Maj. Richard Crusan told The Associated Press.

The Marines were on patrol when two men in an all-terrain vehicle slowly drove past a checkpoint and ignored orders to stop, Crusan said.

Soldiers opened fire, hitting one man in the head and the other in the stomach, he said. Both were in stable condition at Canape Vert Hospital.

Marines recovered a pistol with three clips of ammunition from the vehicle. Crusan said he did not know whether the men fired on the Marines.

"It's still a little cloudy right now," he said. "We don't know if the Marines fired because the car ran the checkpoint or if the occupants fired at them."

Relatives said the men were out buying medicine.

The Marines form part of a multinational security force that arrived in Haiti after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled the country Feb. 29.

Aristide claims Washington forced him out. The United States insists he resigned under pressure from a rebellion led by street gangs and former military officers. Some 300 people died in the three-week uprising.

Marines say they have come under attack several times, apparently by "chimeres," or armed Aristide militants. Six Haitians were killed and one Marine was wounded in incidents before Saturday night's shooting.

At Canape Vert Hospital, angry relatives and friends accused the Marines of shooting without warning.

Sunday morning, dozens of onlookers gathered around the bullet-riddled vehicle, with three flat tires, windows blown out and seats smeared with blood. Across the street, the national telephone company's building was pocked with bullet holes.

Gerald Pierre, a 40-year-old resident who claimed to have witnessed the shooting, said the men tried to pass another car stopped at the checkpoint.

"They tried to slow down but it was too late," he said, sitting on his steps and eating pistachios from a plastic bag.

About 1,800 U.S. troops are in Haiti taking part in the multinational force deployed to restore order for a new interim government headed by Prime Minister Gerard Latortue. Some 1,000 French soldiers also are in Haiti, but they have not reported any major clashes.