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Posted Wednesday, February 21, 2007
U.N. peacekeepers seize house of top Haitian gang leader, arrest 17
By The Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb. 21, 2007 - U.N. peacekeepers seized a house belonging to one of Haiti's most wanted gang leaders but failed to catch him during a raid that also led to the arrest of 17 suspected gang members, officials said Wednesday.

Blue-helmeted troops stormed the house of Amaral Duclona on Tuesday in the Port-au-Prince slum of Cite Soleil, but the targeted man slipped out before troops could catch him, said Col. Alphonso Henrique Pedrosa, a Brazilian military spokesman. It was not clear if those arrested belonged to Duclona's gang.

Duclona is suspected in a wave of kidnappings but has denied criminal ties. He is the second gang leader this month to flee from the 8,800-strong U.N. force, which arrived in 2004 after a violent uprising toppled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The raid was part of a new U.N. offensive to drive gangs out of the Caribbean nation's slums. Earlier this month, U.N. troops stormed Cite Soleil and chased out another gang leader known as Evens, who is also in hiding.

On Wednesday, U.N. troops gave journalists a tour of Duclona's vanilla-colored house, a well-secured, two-bedroom property. The home included an entertainment center and tiled patio with a fountain a sharp contrast to the rows of tin shacks and crumbling brick hovels that populate the fetid seaside slum.

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