The body of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise was laid to rest Friday in his hometown of Cap-Haitien, where gunshots rang out during the service, prompting the U.S. delegation to depart the Caribbean island nation.
The region has been marred by protests and violence since Moise was assassinated on July 7 by gunmen who launched an attack on his home in Port-au-Prince.
Members of the military covered Moise’s coffin in Haiti’s flag in preparation for the funeral.
The White House said Friday that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield led the American delegation to Haiti to attend Moise’s funeral. But when gunfire broke out, the delegation departed.
“The presidential delegation is safe and accounted for in light of the reported shootings outside of the funeral,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“They’re on their way back to the United States. We are deeply concerned about unrest in Haiti.”
Other U.S. officials who joined Thomas-Greenfield included U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison; Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y.; Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Daniel Foote, special envoy to Haiti; and Juan Gonzalez, senior western hemisphere director of the National Security Council.
A senior administration official told NBC News members of the delegation were able to meet with Haitian leaders at the funeral before they departed.
“The delegation will reiterate the United States’ commitment to working with Haiti’s new government to support its investigation into the assassination of President Moise, expand COVID-19 vaccination efforts, and promote security and the rule of law,” a U.S. official told The Hill.
“And [they] will urge members of Haiti’s new government to work with civil society to find solutions to the many pressing challenges facing Haiti and facilitate long-term stability and prosperity.”
Haitian authorities have arrested a number of people they suspect were complicit in Moise’s assassination.