PORT-AU-PRINCE - Nearly 150 people have been killed, most often by gunshot, in Haiti since the start of the year, a rights group said Friday amid rising insecurity in the poverty-ridden country.
The National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) said 147 people -- including five police officers -- suffered violent deaths so far in 2012, most of them in the capital Port-au-Prince.
Overnight Thursday alone, seven people were shot to death in downtown Port-au-Prince, the group said.
An RNDDH report noted that "unusual cases of murder, kidnappings and holding for ransom, theft, motorcycle stalking are taking place everyday while the authorities seem unaware of the widespread trend to respond appropriately."
It also expressed concern over several "heavily armed" groups composed of former military officials who "openly conduct patrols imposed on the population."
Violence flared in Haiti last year over deeply divisive presidential elections and fraud-tainted legislative elections. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti continues to grapple with the aftermath of a devastating 2010 earthquake that hamstrung the government.
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