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Last updated: 27 May, 2005 - Published 12:59 GMT
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Americans warned to leave Haiti
Haitian soldier in the streets of Port au Prince
Violence is a part of daily Haitian life
The US State Department has warned Americans against travelling to Haiti at this time because of recent violence there.

The State Department has ordered the families of US Embassy staff and some non-essential embassy workers to leave Haiti.

In its message, it reminded Americans of the potential for spontaneous demonstrations and violent confrontations between armed groups, in reference to the current climate in the troubled Caribbean nation.

It warned that visitors and residents must remain vigilant due to the absence of an effective police force in much of Haiti.

The US reasons listed for taking extra care include possible looting, intermittent roadblocks, and the possibility of random violent crime including kidnapping, carjacking and assault.

The State department warning came after gunshots were fired by snipers at a US Embassy van in the capital Port au Prince on Wednesday.

In 2004 U.N. peacekeepers were deployed to try to stabilize Haiti after its elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was driven out in February 2004 during an armed revolt.

But the Caribbean nation is still shaken by political and gang violence that has killed nearly 700 people since September.

The U.N. mission, known as MINUSTAH, is struggling to quell the violence before November elections to replace the U.S.-backed interim government.

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