PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Three politicians allied with former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (search) were led away in handcuffs after a six-hour standoff at a radio station, and gunfire erupted Sunday in Haiti's capital where political clashes have left 14 dead.
Tensions have exploded as the impoverished country struggles to recover from floods unleashed two weeks ago by Tropical Storm Jeanne (search), which killed more than 1,550 and left some 900 missing, most presumed dead.
No one was reported killed Sunday, but streets remained blocked with overturned wooden market stalls in La Saline and other areas. Gunfire also rang out in the Bel Air neighborhood.
The heavy gunfire came a day after police arrested Haiti's Senate president and two other allies of Aristide. The three insisted they had no involvement in the violence as they were led out in handcuffs from the offices of Radio Caraibes (search). A judge told reporters they were being detained on illegal weapons charges.
"They are kidnapping me. They have no reason to arrest me. It is an illegal arrest," Senate president Yvon Feuille (search) said as he was led away.
Feuille, former Sen. Gerard Gilles and Roudy Herivaux, a former member of the Chamber of Deputies, became holed up inside Radio Caraibes' offices after appearing on the air Saturday, when more than a dozen armed police surrounded the building.
The parliament hasn't been functioning since January, when most members' terms expired due to a political deadlock over the holding of new elections.
Earlier Saturday, another Lavalas official, former Chamber of Deputies member Joseph Axene, was arrested outside the station for an unknown offense, the Haitian broadcaster Radio Megastar reported.
Haitian residents related scenes of anarchy.
"Every night the gangs are out shooting. No one wants to leave their homes," said Patrick Jeune, 27, in La Saline. "The police are out but the gangs are better armed than they are. It's a disaster."
In capital, at least five men were killed Friday by gunmen outside the home of an anti-Aristide community leader in the seaside slum Village de Dieu, residents said.
The headless bodies of three police officers turned up Friday. They, along with a fourth policeman, were believed killed in clashes Thursday in Port-au-Prince, police said.
Human rights activist Jean-Claude Bajeux said Aristide loyalists are waging "an urban guerrilla operation" that they have dubbed "Operation Baghdad."
"The decapitations are imitative of those in Iraq, and they are meant to show the failure of U.S. policy in Haiti," he said.
Aristide, now in exile in South Africa, has accused U.S. agents of ousting him from the presidency on Feb. 29 amid a bloody rebellion — a charge the U.S. government denies.
Aristide's Lavalas Family party on Thursday began three days of commemoration of the 1991 coup that toppled Aristide's first government. They demanded an end to "the occupation" and "the invasion" by foreign troops — referring to the U.S.-led force that followed Aristide's ouster and the U.N. peacekeepers who have taken over since June.
Pro-Aristide officials said their demonstrations were peaceful and blamed the violence on the interim government and anti-Aristide infiltrators.