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Brit fled violence-torn Haiti as brutal gang clashes grip the country fearing he would be “chopped up by machetes”

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A BRAVE Brit has been forced to escape violence-torn Haiti over fears he would be “chopped up by machetes” and dumped on the street.

The once-picturesque Port-au-Prince has quickly become a bloody warzone following weeks of gang-led destruction turning it into one of the most dangerous cities on earth.

Brit Ben Reinbold was forced to flee Haiti after seeing the horrifying violence up close

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Brit Ben Reinbold was forced to flee Haiti after seeing the horrifying violence up close
Piles of dead bodies can be seen in Haiti especially Port-au-Prince - now known as one of the world's most dangerous cities

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Piles of dead bodies can be seen in Haiti especially Port-au-Prince – now known as one of the world’s most dangerous citiesCredit: Reuters
People have been seen dead on the floor after being chopped up by machetes, says Reinbold

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People have been seen dead on the floor after being chopped up by machetes, says ReinboldCredit: Reuters
Haiti has quickly become a bloody warzone following weeks of gang-led destruction

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Haiti has quickly become a bloody warzone following weeks of gang-led destructionCredit: AFP

Haiti’s infamous warlord Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier has even assured more bloodshed is set to plague the country as he told foreign troops to back off in a chilling warning.

Tens of thousands have escaped the hellish community in the past months including Brit Ben Reinbold, 37, who fled after the violence turned unbearable.

Reinbold saw first hand the kind of terror being caused in the country but said one method of madness stood far above the rest -limbs being hacked off, burnt and dumped.

That was my biggest fear – not being killed, but chopped up by machetes

Ben Reinbold

He said: “Often they burn them so they were charred remains or sometimes chopped up. That was my biggest fear – not being killed, but chopped up by machetes.”

“We didn’t know where they were from, if they had been dumped there to intimidate or killed there.”

Reinbold – who ran Haiti’s only country club and golf course – saw the dismembered bodies of people he had seen around the city as a sign to get out.

He continued: “Being chopped up was at the forefront of my thoughts. When I was a child I saw a guy with half his head missing and I always feared in my nightmares that was how I would end.

“Being chased by men with machetes and chopped up. If they burst in with machetes I’m not waiting for that, I’d rather put a bullet in my head.

Reinbold only escaped the horrors this month when he was rescued by the French Navy.

After seeing piles of dead bodies lining up on the streets and daily gunfire ringing through his ears he knew his demise was getting closer if he stayed.

World’s most dangerous city descends into war as thousands flee prison

“It really felt as the walls were closing in. We were hearing sporadic gunfire all around the town every day,” he told The Sunday Times.

“You never knew who was shooting who. Your ears were always pricked up — trying to work out how close, is it hand gun or machine gun?”

Reinbold has a close bond with the Caribbean nation and has even worked as an interpreter for legendary actor Sean Penn when he came to Haiti.

And for the past three years he has been the general manager of the Petionville Club – a place hosting Haiti’s elite.

Nearly every family in Haiti has experienced a kidnapping either directly or indirectly,

Ben Reinbold

But he said he started to fear going into work when the first signs of war appeared.

He said: “You would be on the tennis courts or golf and hearing heavy gunfire in background, which was surreal, but got used to it.

“If you just turned up there it would be terrifying but living there was a bit like being a frog in gradually boiling water.”

Reinbold himself was a victim of the countries horrifying conditions as he was kidnapped in 2021 alongside his girlfriend.

Reinbold says he would stay inside his house if he ever saw black smoke rising in the distance

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Reinbold says he would stay inside his house if he ever saw black smoke rising in the distanceCredit: AFP
Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee Haiti so far

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Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee Haiti so farCredit: AP
The gangs have become synonymous with burning cars, buildings and even people

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The gangs have become synonymous with burning cars, buildings and even peopleCredit: AFP

Armed men sporting balaclavas burst into their holiday home and ruthlessly tied them up demanding a ransom.

Then just a year later, his uncle was also snatched.

“Nearly every family in Haiti has experienced a kidnapping either directly or indirectly,” he admitted.

“The last few months, things got a lot worse.”

Haiti has been rocked by a surge of unrest since February when armed groups raided a prison, releasing more than 5,000 inmates.

Since then, thugs have been setting government buildings alight and burning down police stations.

As thousands have been slaughtered, assaulted, abused and severely threatened as unprecedented levels of criminality continue to overwhelm the country.

It’s just out-of-control gangs, mostly youngsters in flip-flops, drugged up or boozed up and with a lot of guns

Ben Reinbold

Reinbold continued: “Many people were getting their wives and kids out and thinking whether to leave but the real turning point was when the airport closed down [on March 4] after gangs tried to take control.

“That was the only exit and embassies all closed and panic set in.”

When asked why Haiti has turned so violent, Reinbold had a simple yet chilling answer.

He said:“It’s not one ideology or political movement fighting another, it’s just out-of-control gangs, mostly youngsters in flip-flops, drugged up or boozed up and with a lot of guns.”

Reinbold was one of more than 1.5million citizens at risk of famine, according to aid agencies, as they couldn’t leave their homes safely.

He even admitted sometimes he would take one step outside his house and instantly hurry back inside due to what he saw looming in the distance.

He said: “Before venturing out you would ring around, check WhatsApp groups to see if something was kicking off.

“Often I would get into the street then see black smoke rising in the distance from burning tyres or something else so turn back.”

“Pretty much every neighbourhood was putting up makeshift barricades, sometimes an overturned bus, burnt out cars, piles of wood, whatever they can find and manning them with armed men.”

City under siege

The streets of Port-au-Prince is engulfed in an all-out civil war between more than 200 gangs, a weak police force and more recently citizen-led death squads.

For more than two years, warring factions have been tearing Port-au-Prince apart and turned every day into a fight for survival.

After weeks of anarchy, the de facto PM  Ariel Henry said he would step down – a demand of the increasingly powerful and unified gangs.

However, the unprecedented violence has continued as Henry remains stranded outside the country.

The state has been largely absent during the violence and Haiti’s outmanned and outgunned police are ill-equipped against the gangs which are seeking to expand their territorial control of the capital city.

Plans for an international security mission, requested by Henry in 2022, remain on hold.

The US estimates roughly 1000 of its citizens are trapped in the Caribbean country as its military scrambles to evacuate them.

The capital’s port and airport are still being blockaded by gangs, while police stations, public buildings and other state facilities have been attacked.

The violence has exacerbated an already grim humanitarian situation, with warnings of famine, malnutrition and the collapse of basic services.

Philippe Branchat, chief of the International Organization for Migration, said in a statement: “People living in the capital are locked in, they have nowhere to go.

“The capital is surrounded by armed groups and danger. It is a city under siege.”

A UN Human Rights Office report found that gangs recruit and abuse boys and girls, with some children being killed for trying to escape.

They also continue to use sexual violence to brutalise, punish and control people.

In 2023, the number of people in Haiti killed and injured as a result of gang violence increased significantly with 4,451 killed and 1,668 injured, the report said.

And up to March 22, the numbers skyrocketed to 1,554 killed and 826 injured.

As a result of the escalating gang violence, so-called self-defence brigades have taken justice into their own hands, the report said, and at least 528 cases of lynching were reported in 2023 and a further 59 in 2024.

Jimmy 'Barbecue' Chérizier leads Haiti's capital's most dangerous coalitions of gangs

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Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Chérizier leads Haiti’s capital’s most dangerous coalitions of gangsCredit: Reuters
Reinbold helped to barricade up streets to try and fend off the violent gangs

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Reinbold helped to barricade up streets to try and fend off the violent gangsCredit: Reuters

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