football news now:Thousands of protesters march in Haiti against gang violence

Haitians who were seeking protection from gangs cleared from a camp outside U.S. Embassy

Officers of the Haitian National Police help a woman affected by tear gas after the police cleared a camp of people escaping the threat of armed gangs, in front of the U.S. Embassy, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 25, 2023. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Tensions escalated in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Monday, as thousands of protesters took to the streets to speak out against the country's devastating gang violence, which resulted last week in the death of a police officer.

Government vehicles were set on fire, as protesters - many masked - squared off against police, demanding protection and aid. Authorities later used tear gas to disperse them, eyewitnesses said.

One young protestor, James, said he was marching against the rise of gangs, which has devastated health care and security, with growing numbers of kidnappings and homicides.

"We can't live like this anymore. The other neighborhoods are 'gangsterized'," he said. "People are abandoning their homes."

The United Nations refugee agency says some 73,500 people fled Haiti last year in light of growing gang violence and poverty.

The UN also says 5.2 million - nearly half Haiti's population – need humanitarian assistance, and has urged the need for international assistance in Haiti to restore stability.

"There are thieves. We can't sleep. We can't eat. We can't even live. We didn't create the gangs," one person at the march said.

Protesters told Reuters they wanted an "intervention" in the Port-au-Prince area of Carrefour-Feuilles, decrying the lack of health services and deaths at the hands of gangs.

"We are asking for tanks," said one person.

Reporting by Jean Loobentz Cesar, Additional reporting by Ralph Tedy Erol, Writing by Isabel Woodford; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Acquire Licensing Rights, opens new tab