PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – U.N. troops traded gunfire with armed gangs Wednesday after seizing an abandoned primary school that had been used to stage attacks on the peacekeepers, a U.N. official said. Witnesses said one person died and five were injured.
Blue-helmeted soldiers secured the empty schoolhouse during an early morning raid in Cite Soleil, a gang-controlled slum on the edge of the capital of Port-au-Prince, said Sophie de la Combe, a spokeswoman for the U.N.
"The gangs were using this house for criminal activities and to shoot on U.N. troops, putting the population in danger," de La Combe said.
Troops later came under attack by gang members, setting off a gunbattle in the squalid, densely populated area.
Residents of Cite Soleil told The Associated Press that one man died and five others were wounded, including a young woman shot in the leg and chest.
De la Combe could not provide information on casualties.
Djilale Abdezgigafon, a physician with a Belgian-run Doctors Without Borders clinic in Cite Soleil said several people were treated for gunshot wounds but said the injuries were not life-threatening.
In recent weeks, the 8,800-strong U.N. force has stepped up offensives in Cite Soleil to root out armed gangs that flourished after a February 2004 revolt toppled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Last month, U.N. troops raided the slum in a crackdown against gangs wanted in a wave of kidnappings and killings. Witnesses said 10 civilians were shot to death, but the United Nations said only gang members died.
Also Wednesday, U.N. officials said a Haitian photojournalist was shot to death at his home in a violent slum days after he photographed gang members.
Jean-Remy Badio, a freelancer, was slain Friday in the southern Port-au-Prince slum of Martissant, said Fred Blaise, a U.N. police spokesman. Blaise said gang members were suspected in the shooting but no arrests have been made.
International press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said Badio apparently was killed by gang members he had photographed days earlier. It said Badio's family had reported receiving threats before his killing.