A policeman points a gun at protesters during a demonstration calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti AFP

Haiti's government declared a state of emergency Sunday evening in response to a surge of violence that led to a weekend jailbreak, allowing inmate gang members to escape from the nation's two largest prisons.

The state of emergency will last for 72 hours as the government officials are hunting the criminals who escaped the two prisons, located in the capital Port-au-Prince.

"The police were ordered to use all legal means at their disposal to enforce the curfew and apprehend all offenders," Finance Minister Patrick Boivert, who is currently serving as the acting prime minister, said in a statement, as reported by AP News.

The curfew will apply "between six in the evening and five in the morning on Monday 4, Tuesday 5, Wednesday 6 and this Sunday, March 3, 2024," Reuters reported, citing the statement.

The weekend jailbreak killed at least a dozen people as gang members attacked the prisons, allowing several thousand inmates to escape.

The main prison, the National Penitentiary, estimated that around 4,000 inmates escaped during the jailbreak on Saturday night. There were a few dozen inmates who chose to not run away from the prison, including 18 former Colombian soldiers who were accused of killing Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

One unidentified inmate who didn't choose to leave - despite the open prison door - said, "I'm the only one left in my cell. We were asleep when we heard the sound of bullets. The cell barriers are broken," as per Reuters.

A voluntary prison worker said that around a hundred prisoners didn't leave as they feared they would be killed in the crossfire outside the prison.

Whereas, the second Port-au-Prince prison recorded around 1,400 inmates fleeing on the same day. Aside from these coordinated attacks on these prisons, the gang members also took over the nation's top soccer stadium and kept one employee hostage for hours.

During the rampage, the internet service was down for many residents, as the top mobile network company said the cable connection was cut amid violence.

In the last two weeks, the gangs have also targeted several state institutions including the Central Bank, the country's international airport, and police stations.

The armed gangs want to oust Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who took over the office without elections after Haiti's last president was assassinated in 2021. Since then, the country witnessed a rise in violent gangs.

Hundreds of Haitian protesters took to the streets last month, asking for the resignation of the unelected Prime Minister. However, the police used tear gas to disperse the crowds, who were demonstrating against the administration.

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