Aristide foes named on purported 'hit lists'

April 07, 1995|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has sent a classified cable to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, warning that over two dozen political opponents of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide may be targeted for assassination, senior Defense Department officials said yesterday.

U.S. military officials compiled the list in the last several days from intelligence information and after analyzing purported "hit lists" that have circulated in Haiti and in the Haitian-American news media.

"We think this is a reasonable list of potential targets, all of whom are anti-Aristide people," a senior Defense Department official said.

The U.S. military had provided information earlier about a plot against a prominent opposition figure, Mireille Durocher Bertin, who was shot to death last week.

But officials said the information in that case was more specific than the list now being made available, and that the Pentagon and State Department appeared to be at odds over the importance of the list and what should be done with it.

A senior Defense Department official said that of the 27 names submitted, three people are considered to be in "highly extreme danger," and should be warned. But the Pentagon acknowledged that the final decision rests with the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince.

The official said the main potential threat "could be pro-Aristide elements," but not necessarily linked to Father Aristide himself.

A U.S. official in Haiti said the Pentagon list is one of many that embassy experts have received in recent weeks and are analyzing.

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