Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Haitians Fleeing in Fear Civilians Frightened, Not of Invaders but of Their Own Military

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Haitians Fleeing in Fear Civilians Frightened, Not of Invaders but of Their Own Military

Article excerpt

Hundreds of Haitians flocked to bus stations throughout the capital Saturday, fleeing the city in fear of the expected invasion or revenge by Haiti's soldiers and the paramilitary thugs called "attaches."

Spurring the flight were leaflets dropped overnight from a U.S. plane. They carried a graphic illustration of a body being blown to bits and a Creole legend reading: "There will be an explosion! Hide!"

Many residents said they were abandoning their homes to escape anticipated clashes between U.S. forces and the Haiti's army and civilian militia.

But some of those fleeing said they expect the attaches to punish supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide before the invading troops arrive. Still others said they feared violent clashes between Aristide's supporters and opponents.

Frantic flight turned to tragedy for one family when a truck lost its brakes and careened onto the sidewalk of a bus stop, killing a woman waiting to head north to the mountain village of St. Michel de l'Attalaye. Her three sons wailed in grief as the woman's body was taken away.

Genia Mireille-Alexandre, 34, sitting on an overstuffed bag of possessions and breastfeeding the youngest of her seven children as she waited for a bus, said she has no radio and doesn't know what specific threat faces her country.

"I saw a lot of people leave, so I'm leaving, too," she said, adding that she hoped to stay with relatives in the city of Les Cayes.

A 34-year-old pregnant woman sat waiting with her husband and three children. "I'm afraid my children will get hurt," explained the woman, Mem Andre, also bound for Les Cayes.

Noel, 29, a typist and driver, stood for hours in the crowded parking area of an abandoned Shell station used as the bus station for the town of St. Marc. "I've tried everything" to catch a bus north, said Noel, who wants to return to his village in the Artibonite Valley. …

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