At least five people were killed and 70 others injured after men wielding machetes and guns burst into a Catholic church in a slum area here and set the building afire.
Witnesses said army troops and trucks surrounded the church Sunday morning but did not intervene until noon, three hours after the attack began. The street where the church is located was blocked off.The attackers, believed to be former members of the dreaded Tonton-Macoutes secret police, went on a rampage through two opposition political party offices elsewhere in Haiti's capital.
About 50 attackers appeared suddenly during a morning Mass at St. Jean Bosco church in the Port-au-Prince slum area of La Saline at 9 a.m., witnesses and radio reports said. They doused the church in gasoline and set it afire, the witnesses said.
Victims of the attack were taken to Port-au-Prince general hospital, where officials said at least five had died and about 70 were wounded.
Reporters arriving on the scene were not allowed by police to enter the church, which was largely destroyed.
Radio reports said at least three were killed as the men entered the church hacking and slashing, and witnesses said they believed more could have died in the blaze.
"The men were wearing red arm bands and chanting "we will drink their blood," a young woman told Reuters.
The target of the attacks appeared to be the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a radical liberation theology priest with a wide following in Port-au-Prince.
Church sources said Aristide escaped the attackers and was in a safe place.
A Reuter journalist later saw six men leaving the offices of leading Haitian opposition politician Silvio Claude after destroying the prem-ises.
Windows were smashed and furniture destroyed but no one was hurt. Claude's Christian Democrat Party of Haiti has been at the forefront of political opposition to the military regime, which seized power on June 19.
The six then went on to the headquarters of the National Agricultural Party of veteran politician Louis Dejoie and attacked it. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Both party headquarters are in the center of town, across from the National Palace.
Radio reports said another group ransacked the Radio Cacique and then went on to the headquarters of Radio Soleil, stoning it and firing shots in the air. Both are independent stations.