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State Department urges Americans to get out of Haiti, but how is the question

The U.S. State Department is encouraging American citizens to leave Haiti following an ongoing spate of gang violence.

A series of coordinated gang attacks began against a number of government institutions last week, with prisons, dozens of police stations and the international airport all targeted.

The violence has paralyzed the country, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti has a warning on its website advising citizens to "monitor local news and information on security conditions from commercial transportation providers and arrange to leave Haiti when security conditions and commercial transportation options permit doing so."

PHOTO: Police officers patrol outside the police headquarters as Haiti continues in a state of emergency, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 6, 2024.  (Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters)
PHOTO: Police officers patrol outside the police headquarters as Haiti continues in a state of emergency, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 6, 2024. (Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters)

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How U.S. citizens can make it out of the country, however, remains unclear. Haiti's airport has been temporarily closed and is inoperable. Gangs attempted to seize control of it on Monday, ABC News previously reported.

A land crossing into the Dominican Republic, which Haiti borders, is also almost impossible to travel from Port-au-Prince as the route is dominated by gangs. There are no widely used ports for passenger travel by sea.

This is the second time in just days that the U.S. Embassy in Haiti posted a notice for Americans to leave. It issued the same security alert on March 3.

Haiti is under a state of emergency and nighttime curfew amid the surge in violence, after armed gangs attacked several of the country’s largest prisons and freed thousands of inmates.

The Haitian government declared the 72-hour state of emergency on Sunday evening and imposed a curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. in an effort "to restore the order and to take appropriate measures in order to regain control of the situation," according to a press release.

The government cited "the deterioration in security, particularly in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, characterized by increasingly violent criminal acts perpetrated by armed gangs, causing massive population displacements and consisting in particular of kidnappings and assassinations of peaceful citizens, violence against women and children, ransacking and theft of public and private property."

Of the nearly 4,000 inmates estimated to have been behind bars at the facility prior to Saturday's assault, fewer than 100 were still inside as of Sunday according to the officials, who cautioned that the actual number of escapees remains unknown.

The Haitian government said in a statement on Sunday that those responsible for the attack were "heavily armed criminals wanting at all costs to free people in custody, particularly for kidnapping, murder and other serious offenses," and that several inmates and prison staff were injured in the fighting.

A Haitian law enforcement source who was at the scene when gangs attempted to seize control of the airport Monday told ABC News earlier this week that an estimated several dozen gunmen from gangs breached the perimeter wall of the Toussaint Louverture International Airport on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

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The assailants exchanged gunfire with Haitian police and soldiers as they tried to reach the airport's main buildings to take over the facility, but were ultimately stopped before doing so, the source said.

At least one Haitian police officer was wounded and later died at a nearby hospital, according to a Haitian police source. An unknown number of attackers were also injured or killed.

The U.S. Embassy said Wednesday its facility in Port-au-Prince would be conducting "limited operations" Thursday and appointments for all services through March 12 have been canceled.

In an update on Thursday evening, Brian Nichols, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said Secretary Blinken spoke on the phone with Haitian leader Ariel Henry.

The State Department didn’t release a readout from the call, but Blinken reiterated the need to speed up the transfer of power, according to Nichols.

Officials are still closely monitoring the situation on the ground in Haiti, but say there are no imminent plans for an evacuation of the U.S. Embassy or a government-led evacuation of Americans in the country.

-- ABC News' Will Gretsky, Shannon Crawford and Aicha El Hammar Castano contributed to this report.

State Department urges Americans to get out of Haiti, but how is the question originally appeared on