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As Haiti protests continue, US citizens warned to shelter in place

As demonstrations continued in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and a northern city following a fuel price hike, the US embassy warned its citizens Saturday to stay inside.

Protesters have been demonstrating this week against a sharp rise in fuel prices ordered by the government.

An estimated 120 American and 100 Haitian guests are stuck in a Port-au-Prince hotel and may soon evacuate after demonstrators tried to set fire to the hotel and penetrate security to enter it, said Stacy Librandi Bourne, an emergency medical professional from HERO Client Rescue who is at the Oasis Hotel.

Bourne said police prevented demonstrators from entering the hotel and that there are tourists, missionaries and children amongst the guests.

“Do not attempt to travel at this time. Avoid protests and any large gathering of people. Do not attempt to drive through roadblocks,” a State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs official said.

The US embassy’s website says armed demonstrators are manning some of the roadblocks.

There are no reports of US citizens in Haiti being injured, the embassy said.

Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant on Saturday announced a temporary stop to the price increases and appealed for calm. Prices for gasoline were to rise 38% while diesel prices were to go up 47% and kerosene 51%, the Haitian daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported.

American Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines said Saturday they have canceled flights to Haiti.

American spokesman Curtis Blessing said the airline canceled seven flights and will re-evaluate the situation Sunday.

Spirit said it will resume service as soon as possible.