Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in an attack on his private residence, the country's interim prime minister said in a statement Wednesday, calling it a "hateful, inhumane and barbaric act."
First Lady Martine Moise was hospitalised following the overnight attack, interim Premier Claude Joseph said. The nation of more than 11 million people had grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled under Moise.
"The country's security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti," Joseph said in a statement from his office. "Democracy and the republic will win."
Joseph condemned the assassination as a "hateful, inhumane and barbaric act." He said some of the attackers spoke in Spanish but offered no further explanation.
Haiti's economic, political and social woes have deepened recently, with gang violence spiking heavily in the capital of Port-au-Prince, inflation spiraling and food and fuel becoming scarcer at times in a country where 60% of the population makes less than USD 2 a day.
Moise, who was 53, had been ruling by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections, which led to Parliament being dissolved. Opposition leaders have accused him of seeking to increase his power, including approving a decree that limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and another that created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president.
With inputs from IANS.