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Biden condemns the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise and says the US is ready to offer assistance

United States President Joe Biden speaks to reporters as he leaves the White House in Washington on July 7, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who was shot dead overnight by attackers in his private home.

"The United States offers its condolences to the people of Haiti and we stand ready to help as we continue to work for a safer Haiti," Biden said in a statement.

Haiti's interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph confirmed the killing, saying the military and police are in control of security in the country. Joseph added that the first lady, Martine Moise, was injured in the attack and is being treated in a hospital.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the US is in contact with the government in Haiti and is ready to provide assistance if requested.

"We are ready to help. We are certainly in contact, but obviously this is evolving and so we will assess what your needs are," said Psaki on Wednesday on board Air Force One en route to Illinois .

Haiti's ambassador to the US, Bocchit Edmond, called on the US and other nations to help the armed forces in Haiti after the attack.

Edmond said economic aid is not a priority right now, stressing the need to strengthen security in Haiti. In particular, he pointed out the importance of protecting Haiti's borders, as the perpetrators may still be in the country or have already fled.

"We cannot have a stable country without security," said Edmond on Wednesday during a press conference.

Edmond added that a formal request to the US for assistance in investigating the attack has been made and is being considered. He stated that he was in contact with the White House, the State Department and the US Ambassador to Haiti, Michele Sison.

The State Department approved Biden's condemnation of the attack and called on Haiti to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Those who try to achieve their political goals through violence and the undermining of the rule of law will fail to thwart the Haitian people and their desire for a better and better future. We urge the Haitian authorities to bring those responsible to justice, ”Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken was informed about the attack and the security situation in Haiti by the US ambassador, who is currently in Washington, and the deputy head of mission Nicole Theriot, who is in Haiti, Price said. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also in regular contact with the Prime Minister.

Price said he could not confirm that the US had received a formal request for assistance, but said the US ambassador was in contact with the Haitian National Police.

The State Department strongly denied any involvement by the Drug Enforcement Administration after the attackers were reportedly heard to identify themselves as DEA agents.

"These reports are dead wrong," Price said. "The United States condemns this heinous act. This hoax is nothing more than that, just hoax."

Based on a video taped from a neighbor's house during the attack, Edmond claimed the perpetrators were "well-trained professional killers, commandos", some of whom spoke Spanish. Haitians speak French and Creole.

The attack is contributing to political upheaval in the Caribbean country, which is facing a surge in gang violence, Covid-19 cases and anti-government protests, Associated Press reported.

Moise, 53, was accused of trying to increase his power and faced months of demands from opposition leaders to resign, according to the AP. He had ruled by decree for over a year after Haiti failed to hold elections.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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