The United States government has temporarily closed the U.S. Embassy in Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise by armed intruders early Wednesday.

Moise, 53, was at the presidential palace at around 1:00 am on Wednesday when a “highly trained and heavily armed group” conducted a “coordinated attack,” according to a statement from interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph.

The late president’s wife was also reportedly injured in the attack, but her condition remains unclear. Police have been patrolling the area as forensics teams examine evidence outside the president’s residence. 

Joseph, who has only been interim prime minister since April 2021, has declined to elaborate on the nature of the attack. Amidst the uncertainty, the Biden administration’s state department has temporarily closed the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. 

“Due to an ongoing security situation, the US Embassy is restricting its direct-hire US citizen staff to the Embassy compounds in Tabarre until further notice. The Embassy will be closed today, including for consular services,” reads a state department security alert from early Wednesday. “Please avoid unnecessary travel in this area at this time.”

Haiti has long struggled with its economic and political conditions. Recent data from the World Bank shows that the country, which is home to more than 11 million people, has a per-capita income of $1,150, and “remains the poorest country in the Latin America and Caribbean region and among the poorest countries in the world.” 

Joseph told The New York Times in an interview Wednesday that he has control over the country. But the Times adds: “Still, it was unclear how much control he had, or how long it might last. A new prime minister had been scheduled to replace Mr. Joseph this week, and the head of the nation’s highest court, who might also have helped establish order, died of Covid-19 in June.”

President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific assassination,” and that the United States was standing “ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti.”

Joseph, meanwhile, has continued to urge calm within the country.

“We urge Haitians to show restraint and maintain a peaceful environment over the coming days. We also call on the international community to launch an investigation into the assassination and for the United Nations to hold a Security Council meeting on Haiti as soon as possible,” said Joseph in a statement, reports CNN. “President Moise died in defense of democracy and we have a duty to ensure his legacy is honored. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire nation, and with the family of the President and the First Lady.”

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