Four people suspected of assassinating Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse have been killed in a shootout with the security forces, police say.
Two others have been detained, while some remaining suspects are thought to be still at large in the nation’s capital Port-au-Prince.
“They will be killed or captured,” police chief Leon Charles said.
Moïse, 53, was fatally shot and his wife was injured when attackers stormed their home early on Wednesday.
The president was reportedly hit by multiple bullets and his office and bedroom were ransacked. First Lady Martine Moïse has been flown to Florida where she is said to be in a critical but stable condition and is receiving treatment.
“Four mercenaries were killed [and] two were intercepted under our control,” Charles said in a televised statement late on Wednesday. “Three policemen who had been taken hostage have been recovered.”
“We blocked [the suspects] en route as they left the scene of the crime,” he added. “Since then, we have been battling with them.”
Speaking after the killing, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph called for calm and declared a nationwide state of emergency.
The state of emergency, or “state of siege”, allows for the banning of gatherings and use of the military for police roles, along with other extensions of executive powers.
US President Joe Biden offered condolences to the people of Haiti for the “horrific assassination”. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it “an abhorrent act” and also appealed for calm.
The UN Security Council, which is set to hold a closed-door meeting on the killing on Thursday, issued a statement in which it made “an emphatic call on all political stakeholders in Haiti to refrain from any acts of violence or incitement”.
Moïse became president of Haiti in 2017, but in recent times faced widespread protests demanding his resignation.
Coups, political instability, widespread gang violence and natural disasters have plagued the country for decades and rendered it the poorest nation in the Americas.
THE ASSASSINATION: Heavily armed assassins stormed the couple’s home in the hills above Port-au-Prince at around 01:00 local time (05:00 GMT).
PM Joseph said the attackers were “foreigners who spoke English and Spanish”. Haiti’s official languages are Creole and French.
Magistrate Carl Henry Destin told the Nouvelliste newspaper that Moïse’s body had a total of 12 bullet holes, in the forehead, chest, hips and abdomen.
“The president’s office and bedroom were ransacked. We found him lying on his back, blue pants, a white shirt smeared with blood, his mouth open, his left eye gouged out,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.
He said that the first couple’s daughter, Jomarlie, had survived by hiding in her brother’s room, while two domestic staff members had been tied up by the attackers. No-one apart from the president and first lady were shot.
Video released after the shooting purports to show heavily armed men dressed in black outside the residence shouting in English: “DEA [US Drug Enforcement Agency] operations, everybody stay down!”
Haiti’s ambassador to the US, Bocchit Edmond, said there was “no way” US drugs agents had carried out the attack. He believed it was the work of “professional mercenaries” and later said they had been disguised as agents.