Pentagon Confirms Haiti Asked for 'Security' Assistance After Assassination

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rowd protesting assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise
Police stand amid a crowd protesting against the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse near the police station of Petion Ville in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

The Pentagon confirmed late Friday that the Haitian government requested security assistance in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on Wednesday.

The New York Times reported earlier in the day that Haitian minister of elections Mathias Pierre had asked that the Biden administration send in troops.

"The Haitian government has requested security and investigative assistance, and we remain in regular contact with Haitian officials to discuss how the United States can assist," Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman told Military.com in an email. The Pentagon referred further questions to the U.S. State Department.

It was not immediately clear how U.S. officials responded to the request.

Hours earlier, Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that senior FBI and Homeland Security officials will travel to Port Au Prince "as soon as possible" to begin investigations into the motive behind the July 7 attack, which killed President Moïse at his residence and gravely wounded first lady Martine Moïse.

On Thursday Haitian officials identified a militia group responsible for the attack and named 28 men -- 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans -- as having played a role in the attempted coup. Seventeen were detained, while three were killed by Haiti police during a shootout. The remaining suspects fled and remain at large, the Associated Press reported.

The Colombian government is cooperating with authorities, and said some of the Colombians implicated in the attack are former military, the AP said.

Haiti has seen U.S. personnel for previous humanitarian relief operations following the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. Roughly 22,000 service members deployed for medical assistance, food distribution and reconstruction efforts during a 6-month rotation.

"We condemn this heinous act," Biden said in a tweet following assassination of Moïse. "The U.S. stands ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

Related: Official: Haiti President Jovenel Moïse Assassinated at Home

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