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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 December, 2003, 16:41 GMT
Shooting erupts at Haiti protest
Protesters flee as government supporters open fire and riot police move in at a protest in Port-au-Prince
Protesters fled in panic as shooting erupted in Port-au-Prince
Gunmen have opened fire at an anti-government protest in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, killing two.

Opponents of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide were marching when government supporters began shooting at them late on Monday, witnesses said.

Riot police returned shots, killing a bystander in the cross-fire. There are no details about the second victim.

More than 20 people have been killed in various anti-government protests since September 2003.

Protesters say the president has repressed dissent and mismanaged the economy and are calling on him to resign.

They have also accused the police of not doing enough to protect them from armed pro-government supporters during protests.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and most of its eight million residents are unemployed.

Looking for change

Monday's demonstration was reportedly one of the largest held so far in the capital.

Witnesses said violence erupted when gunmen in a truck began shooting as they drove towards the protesters.

Riot police then opened fire as people fled in panic.

Earlier, protesters had waved white handkerchiefs for peace while others held red cards - such as those used by referees in football games to send players off the pitch - to signal that they wanted their president "sent off".

"We need a change," protester Paul Destin told the Associated Press news agency.

"We're losing our freedom of speech and street thugs are terrorising the people. This has got to stop."

Independence anniversary

Earlier in December one person was reported killed and a further eight injured when thousands of people marched against their government in Port-au-Prince and the town of Gonaives.

Four private radio stations also reportedly suspended broadcasts after government supporters phoned in with death threats against protesters.

The government says the protests are aimed at spoiling celebrations of two centuries of Haitian independence on 1 January.

Mr Aristide has been locked in stalemate with the opposition since 2000, when he returned to power in landslide elections which his opponents say were rigged.

The opposition is demanding that Mr Aristide step down, but he has vowed to serve out his term, which ends in 2006.

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