Haitian authorities said Saturday that four police agents were killed and several wounded the day before during a botched anti-gang operation in the capital Port-au-Prince that also saw officers lose some of their equipment.
In a brief statement Charles expressed sympathy to the victims’ families as well as to “those who support the police and are sickened by the publicity around the bodies of dead officers.”
The police have yet to recover the bodies of those killed in the crime-ridden Village de Dieu neighborhood, where the sound of automatic gunfire filled the air on Friday.
Charles did not say if any arrests had been made.
Images posted on social media showed several damaged police vehicles — including an armored truck — sitting abandoned on a street in the waterfront district.
Charles admitted that some equipment “remained in the theater of operations,” without providing details.
The criminal gang reportedly also recovered some high-caliber automatic weaponry and other police equipment.
A statement Saturday from the United Nations office in Haiti said it was “imperative” that the circumstances surrounding the raid be clarified and that those responsible for the violence be brought to justice.
Gang influence in Haiti has grown steadily in recent years.
Criminal networks exercise total control over several poor and densely populated neighborhoods of the capital, creating “no-go” zones where they hold kidnap victims.
Haiti has seen a surge in kidnappings for ransom in recent months, targeting both the wealthy and those of far more modest means.