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As Police Flee, Rebels Tighten Grip in Haiti's Heartland

Hailed as liberators by thousands of chanting residents, four truckloads of rebel soldiers made a triumphal entry into this dusty town on Friday, ending a week in which they wrested control of Haiti’s Central Plateau from the embattled government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Based in the heart of the plateau’s rich farmland, groups of about 60 rebel soldiers have made lightning raids on towns and villages across the region, ousting officials loyal to Mr. Aristide and putting the president’s hated chimères — armed gangs used to the keep an iron grip on the populace — to flight. “It’s good they’re here, I feel safe with them here,” said Jenette Bienaimé, a young woman who turned out to welcome the rebel troops who waved Haitian flags as local bands played marching tunes on bamboo flutes and giant seashells. She said pro-Aristide gangs had routinely executed political opponents in Hinche (pronounced ANCH) and dumped their bodies in the river. Full Story

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