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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 June, 2005, 03:44 GMT 04:44 UK
UN agrees stop-gap Haiti mission
UN peacekeepers patrol a street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
UN troops were sent to Haiti after Aristide was ousted
The United Nations Security Council has voted to extend the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Haiti by a further 24 days.

The move was decided after diplomats failed to agree to a longer deployment of peacekeepers in the country.

They hope the extension will provide extra time to resolve a diplomatic dispute with China.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended troops remain for a further year to provide security for elections.

But China insists that the peacekeeping mission should be prolonged by no more than six months.

Violence

The UN mission has failed to quell violence in Haiti, which continued on Tuesday when a market in the capital Port-au-Prince was burned down.

Firefighters struggled to douse the flames in the Ox Head market, while UN peacekeepers evacuated people from the area.

At least one person was shot dead at the market, and a survivor told the AP news agency that others trapped inside had been killed.

"I heard shooting and everybody was running to get out," said market seller Louise Amarano, 52. "And then there was a big explosion."

Emilson Branche, 39, escaped with badly burned forearms, which friends covered in toothpaste to try to ease the pain, AP said.

"There are many dead people who couldn't get out but I don't how many," he said.

Port-au-Prince Mayor Carline Simon denounced the violence and called for calm.

The Security Council in New York decided to extend the mission by a few weeks after a debate which ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

A Chinese official in Haiti told AP that Beijing believed peacekeepers were needed in Haiti for no longer than six more months.

But Taiwan accused China of trying to damage its ties with Haiti, because of a planned visit by Haiti's interim President Boniface Alexandre to Taiwan in July.

China objects to countries having relations with Taiwan, which it maintains is a breakaway part of China.

Continuing violence in Haiti threatens to overshadow the country's local, legislative and presidential elections, due between October and December.

Both criminal gangs and political militias - supporters or opponents of ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide - are blamed for the bloodshed.

Human rights groups say more than 600 people have been killed in violence in Haiti since last October.


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