Women and children rescued by police after armed gang surrounds Haiti hospital

An armed gang has surrounded a hospital in Haiti trapping women and children before they were rescued by police, the boss of the medical facility has said.

The gang was torching houses surrounding the Fontaine Hospital Centre in the capital of Port-au-Prince, preventing anybody from leaving, the medical director, Jose Ulysse, told the AP news agency.

He had said earlier that the gangs had appeared to enter the hospital - and pleaded for help on social media.

Police responded to his call and managed to evacuate 40 children and 70 patients - including children on oxygen - to a private home in a safer part of the city, he said.

The community in the sprawling Cite Soleil slum has become overrun by gangs that have unleashed increasingly violent attacks.

Civilians in the area are routinely raped, beaten or killed.

A recent UN report highlighted one gang in Haiti that is involved in extortion, hijacking of goods and general violence against civilians - and has form for kidnapping people for ransom.

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Haitian gangs have grown more powerful since the 2021 assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise.

Earlier this year, at least 20 armed gang members snatched a patient from an operating room after bursting into a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders.

The criminals gained access after faking a life-threatening emergency, the organisation said.