Haiti legislator fires handgun at protest, photojournalist injured

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - A legislator from Haiti’s ruling party fired a handgun during a protest on Monday, injuring a photojournalist as anger rises over fuel and food shortages in the Caribbean country.

Senator Jean Marie Ralph Fethiere stepped out of a white truck near parliament in the capital Port-au-Prince after several protesters yanked open his passenger-side door while gesturing and yelling at the lawmaker, Reuters footage showed.

Fethiere, wearing a black suit jacket and jeans, pulled out a handgun and fired several shots, sending the cluster of people around his car fleeing in all directions.

He then got back inside the vehicle, which sped out of the parking lot.

Associated Press photographer Dieu-Nalio Chery was injured in the jaw and would undergo treatment to remove what appeared to be a bullet fragment, the news agency said in a report, adding he was expected to recover.

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International media outlets reported a security guard was also injured, but there were no details on his condition.

When asked about the incident, Fethiere told Radio Mega he had acted in self defense.

A dispute between Haiti and a U.S. energy trading firm has caused power blackouts and fuel shortages in the nation of 11 million people, feeding anger at President Jovenel Moise’s government.

The Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, Haiti long relied on fuel shipments from nearby OPEC member Venezuela, which offered cheap financing to several Caribbean nations to buy its gasoline, diesel and other products through a program called Petrocaribe.

But the scheme fell apart last year due to economic turmoil in Venezuela, forcing Haiti to return to international markets and causing prices to rise.

Reporting by Robenson Sanon in Port-Au-Prince, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon and Paul Vieira; editing by Darren Schuettler