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Haitian civil unrest enters third day

Protesters have blocked streets in Haiti while many damaged or looted shops stayed closed for a third day following anger over steep fuel price increases in the Caribbean nation.

The mostly young protesters used downed trees and large rocks to block roads on Sunday, as well as setting piles of tyres on fire, some of which continued to smolder, sending up thick clouds of black smoke.

Police used tear gas to disperse crowds in some places.

The charred remains of cars could be seen in several spots around the sprawling capital, including in front of the Best Western and Oasis hotels, in the capital’s southern hilltop suburb of Petion-Ville, as well as near the offices of telecommunications company Natcom.

The US embassy warned its citizens to avoid the unrest in the capital Port-au-Prince and reschedule travel plans as several airlines canceled flights.

At the Toussaint Louverture international airport, dozens of stranded travellers camped out waiting for flights to resume, lounging on suitcases.

Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced the temporary suspension of double-digit government hikes to prices for gasoline, diesel and kerosene on Saturday afternoon – just a day after they were announced – but the unrest continued.

Across the capital, few cars and motorcycles were moving on the rubble-strewn streets on Sunday, while broken windows and damaged buildings were a common sight.

At a shopping center in Petion-Ville, police tried to secure shops, with broken glass and merchandise scattered on the floor.

Both the Canadian and Mexican embassies in Haiti announced that they would be closed on Monday.

The decision to raise fuel prices was part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which requires the impoverished country to enact measures to boost government revenue and services and strengthen the country’s economy.

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