GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) – Two U.N. peacekeepers were wounded in shootouts with supporters of Haiti’s ousted president in the capital and storm survivors in flood-ravaged Gonaives, the first casualties of the 4-month-old U.N. mission, officials said Sunday.

Relief workers from Doctors of the World also came under attack in Gonaives, and the French group said it was evacuating its staff of seven until security improves.

Outside a memorial Mass for flood victims of Tropical Storm Jeanne, an Argentine soldier was shot in the arm Saturday night after protesters shouted abuse at visiting leaders of Haiti’s U.S.-backed government, accusing them of not doing enough to help.

Heavy gunfire erupted in Port-au-Prince on Saturday as about 150 Brazilian troops in armored vehicles and 150 Haitian police in trucks rolled into the volatile Bel Air, where armed young men have barricaded themselves behind torched vehicles and bonfires, demanding the return of Aristide.

A Brazilian soldier was wounded in the foot, the first casualty among some 3,000 Brazilian-led peacekeepers, U.N. spokesman Toussaint Kongo-Doudou said.

The clashes came a day after the beheaded bodies of a father and son were found in the Port-au-Prince slum of La Saline.

The government has blamed Aristide supporters for the violence in Port-au-Prince, saying they are behind a campaign called “Operation Baghdad” and the recent beheadings of three police officers and others.

At least 26 people have been killed in violence that erupted as Aristide supporters stepped up protests Sept. 30, demanding his return and an end to “the invasion” – referring to U.S. Marines who arrived as Aristide left and U.N. peacekeepers who took over in June.

The U.S. State Department has warned Americans not to travel to the Caribbean country except for emergencies, citing “serious risks.”

Aristide supporters blame the violence on anti-Aristide gunmen and police they say opened fire on unarmed protesters. They also criticize interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue for not disarming rebels whom Latortue has hailed as liberators.

But on Saturday, the gunmen turned their wrath on him.

“If the government doesn’t take responsibility for things here, then we will. Remember, it was Gonaives that got rid of Aristide,” rebel fighter Wilfort Ferdinand told hundreds of onlookers after a memorial Mass in the northwestern city of Gonaives. The rebels’ three-week rebellion forced Aristide to flee the country Feb. 29.

On Sunday, a group of men sneaked into the U.N. base at a college campus in Gonaives and stole some clothes and bedsheets, officials said. Jordanian police chased away the men, who had entered from the sparsely guarded rear section of the compound, which is being used as a temporary base for dozens of troops and U.N. medics.

After dark Saturday, civilians fired into the air and smashed rocks into a vehicle carrying four people from Doctors Without Borders, the agency’s coordinator Sophie Nasserre said. The workers screeched off, smashed into a nearby truck but managed to escape on foot, she said.

“We can’t continue to work like this when humanitarian workers who don’t even have food are attacked like this,” she said. “People are being too aggressive.”

An estimated 200,000 people are homeless in Gonaives, many living on sidewalks and rooftops, and thousands remain hungry despite a massive international humanitarian effort. Peacekeepers have fired into the air to stop riots at food distributions.

The storm unleashed floods and mudslides that killed at least 1,870 and left some 884 missing, most presumed dead.

AP-ES-10-10-04 1724EDT



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