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Haitian gang members flee to the Dominican Republic, U.N. envoy says

Haitian gang members flee to the Dominican Republic, U.N. envoy says

An aggressive new U.N. offensive has prompted several Haitian gang members to flee their slum strongholds and cross the border into the Dominican Republic, the top official of the international body in Haiti said Thursday.
Edmond Mulet, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, said Dominican authorities have captured several of the gang members crossing into their territory since the U.N. peacekeepers launched a series of crackdowns on gangs in two Port-au-Prince slums earlier this month.
"We heard from the Dominican authorities ... that they have arrested several gang members or people trying to flee to the Dominican Republic," Mulet told the Associated Press.
"This is normal, especially if you are a gang member and have money, just to leave the country to go somewhere where you will not be known," he added.
Officials in the Dominican Republic _ which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti _ did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
U.N. troops and Haitian police raided the Martissant slum last weekend and arrested 31 gang members. On Friday, more than 700 troops raided another slum, Cite Soleil, and killed one suspected gang member and wounded four others.
In January, U.N. troops killed four suspected gang members in Cite Soleil during a raid to seize an abandoned schoolhouse that the U.N. said had been used to stage attacks on peacekeepers. A month earlier, peacekeepers fought a five-hour gun battle with gangs during another raid in Cite Soleil. The U.N. said six gang members died, but slum dwellers claimed 10 died and all were civilians.
Mulet said the 8,800-strong U.N. force and Haitian police would continue going after gangs in Port-au-Prince but had no plans to beef up patrols along the 391-kilometer (243-mile) Haitian-Dominican border.
The U.N. Security Council on Thursday voted unanimously to extend the peacekeeping mission for eight months following an agreement between the United States and China on the length of the new mandate.
The blue-helmeted U.N. force arrived in July 2004 to quell unrest in the aftermath of a violent revolt that toppled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected leader.