Heavy gunfire has forced flight cancellations at Haiti’s main airport and killed at least four at a police station, as the Caribbean nation grapples with surging gang violence and political instability.

American Airlines said Thursday it had suspended its daily service between Miami and Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince.

“We will continue to monitor the situation with safety and security top of mind and will adjust our operation as needed,” spokesperson Laura Masvidal told CNN.

Haitian airline Sunrise Airways told CNN that it suspended “all flights until further notice to ensure the safety of passengers, ground crews, and aircraft.”

Rapid gunfire was reported in multiple parts of Port-au-Prince on Thursday. Shootings near the airport “caused damage to some aircraft and endangered users” of the domestic terminal, according to Sunrise Airways.

Haiti has been gripped by a wave of unrest and gang violence in recent years.

Warring gangs control much of Port-au-Prince, choking off vital supply lines to the rest of the country. Gang members have also terrorized the metropolitan population, forcing some 200,000 people to flee their homes amid waves of indiscriminate killing, kidnapping, arson and rape.

Some 1,100 people were killed, injured, or kidnapped in January alone, in what the United Nations called the most violent month in two years.

More than 8,400 people were victims of such violence through last year, according to a report from the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BIUH).

Waves of crime and violence began to sweep across Haiti following the assassination of former President Jovenel Moise in 2021.

Public frustration has mounted against Prime Minister Ariel Henry for his failure to put a lid on the unrest, especially after he failed to hold elections supposedly slated for last month, citing the escalating violence.

On Wednesday, Henry told other Caribbean nations’ leaders during a regional summit that he would hold polls no later than August 31 next year, his first confirmation on when a vote will finally go ahead.

Leaders from the CARICOM regional bloc – a political and economic grouping of 20 developing countries and mostly island states – said they agreed to dispatch a team to assess the electoral needs of Haiti.

A powerful Haitian gang leader said gun fights that broke out across Port-au-Prince on Thursday were aimed at overthrowing Henry’s government, multiple media outlets reported.

Jimmy Cherizier, known as “Barbecue,” said in a video shared on social media that the battle will “not only topple the Ariel [Henry] government,” but “change the whole system,” according to international news agencies and Haitian media. CNN cannot independently verify the video’s authenticity.

An attack on Bon Repos Police Station, north of Port-au-Prince, on Thursday left at least four people dead and three wounded, a security source told CNN.

Three other people were injured in separate attacks across the capital – one at the airport, a second near a prison in downtown Port-au-Prince, and a third inside the prison, the security source said.

The US Embassy in Haiti issued a security alert after heavy gunfire was also reported around Boulevard 15 du Octobre, where it is located.

The embassy said traffic in the area was blocked and a barricade was erected at the intersection near its premises.

CNN has reached out to the Haitian National Police for details.

The fighting broke out on the same day Henry visited Kenya to finalize details for the expected deployment of a multinational security support mission to Haiti. CNN has contacted the Haitian government for comment.

The security mission, authorized by the UN, has been seen by the international community as key to containing a full-blow fallout in Haiti. Kenya volunteered to serve as the lead nation in that mission.

“We are offering the experience and expertise of our police officers in the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti as mandated by the United Nations Security Council and as guided by our courts,” Kenyan President William Ruto posted on X on Thursday.

The United States intended to contribute $200 million to the multinational security support mission to back the Haitian national police “with planning, with intelligence, with airlift capacity, communications, and medical equipment and services,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week.

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