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2 March 2006

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti_Two Haitian security guards employed by the U.S. Embassy were shot to death near the American ambassador’s official residence, the embassy said Thursday.

The men had finished their shifts and were traveling home separately when they were attacked Wednesday night in the upscale Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bourdon, the embassy said in a statement. Their bodies were found a few meters (feet) apart early Thursday.

“We will spare no effort to identify and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible for this heinous act,” the embassy said, adding that it was working with Haitian and U.N. police.

The area includes the official home of the U.S. ambassador, but the embassy declined to say if the guards had been posted there before the shooting. Diplomats from several other countries and the United Nations also live in the neighborhood of heavily guarded villas and homes.

No motive was given for the killings, which came amid a relatively calm period after Feb. 7 presidential elections won by Rene Preval.

The long-awaited elections were called to replace former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose ouster two years ago in a bloody revolt touched off a wave of kidnappings and killings.

The United States currently has no ambassador in Haiti. Acting Ambassador Tim Carney left last month and will be replaced soon by Janet Sanderson, a former U.S. ambassador to Algeria.

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