15/11/2010 - PORT-AU-PRINCE - Protesters in Haiti who blame United Nations troops for a cholera epidemic that has killed hundreds attacked U.N. peacekeepers with rocks in two cities on Monday, raising questions about security ahead of presidential elections this month, authorities said.
In Haiti's second city of Cap-Haitien in the North, hundreds of protesters yelling anti-U.N. slogans hurled stones at U.N. peacekeepers, set up burning barricades and torched a police station, Haitian officials said.
"The whole city is blocked, businesses and schools have closed, cars have been burned. It's chaos here," a businessman in Cap-Haitien, Georgesmain Prophete, told Reuters.
Adouin Zephirin, the government representative in Cap-Haitien, said some injuries were reported but no deaths.
At Hinche in the central region, demonstrators threw stones at Nepalese troops who have been the subject of widespread rumors that they brought to Haiti the cholera bacteria behind the month-long epidemic.
The U.N. mission in Haiti, which is helping the poor Caribbean country rebuild after a devastating January 12 earthquake, has denied rumors that latrines close to a river at the Nepalese U.N. camp were the cause of the cholera outbreak.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said DNA testing shows the cholera strain in Haiti is most closely related to a strain from South Asia. But it has not pinpointed the source or linked it directly to the Nepalese troops, whom the U.N. says tested negative for the disease.
The epidemic, which has killed more than 900 people and sickened close to 15,000, has inflicted another crisis on the Western Hemisphere's poorest state as it struggles to rebuild from the quake that killed more than 250,000. Fear, uncertainty and anger have swept the country already traumatized by the quake, which also left 1.5 million homeless.