…Accompanied by four Haitians, the foreigners entered Simon Pele, a Cité Soleil neighborhood where U.N. troops had reportedly attacked people in recent weeks. The plan was for the group to interview residents to ascertain what actually had happened at that time. “We saw a church and a health clinic and a school that had been completely blasted away and couldn’t operate any more,” Welsh said.
They had just begun to interview people, when they saw four UN armored personnel carriers approaching. “Two went down one street and two came down the street we were on,” Welsh said in an interview in Berkeley on Saturday. Market stalls were operating in front of the houses and there were many people on the street, including children, Welsh said.
Accompanying the APCs, manned by Brazilian soldiers, was a UN bulldozer and a UN dump truck filled with sand. The sand was dumped and the bulldozer scooped it up, placing it to form a barrier in a roadway “apparently to block an escape route from the neighborhood,” said Terrell in a phone interview from Haiti on Sunday.
From previous experience, people understood that this was the first step in a U.N. “operation” that would culminate in an attack on the neighborhood, Welsh said, adding that the bulldozer and dump truck seemed to scare the people more than the familiar sight of the occupying troops atop the APCs.
Then the troops started firing. “They were shooting down the street and into houses,” said Welsh, describing the shots as repeated and apparently random. Both Welsh and Terrell said they heard two pops coming from the direction of the houses, which they said could have been return fire from a small caliber weapon.
The soldiers ignored the foreigners, who filmed and photographed the incident, hoping that their presence would deter a full-scale assault by the UN soldiers on the people. “We tried to talk to them, but they wouldn’t talk to us,” said Welsh, who, for some of the time, was as close as five feet from where the soldiers were shooting. At one point, “I saw five or six Brazilians run out of the APCs and into the neighborhood,” Terrell said.