updated 7/1/2005 2:05:54 PM ET 2005-07-01T18:05:54

A worker for the International Committee of the Red Cross was kidnapped and killed in Haiti, the humanitarian agency said Friday.

Joel Cauvin, a Haitian, was abducted Wednesday evening and found dead near his home Thursday, the ICRC said.

“The ICRC is deeply distressed by the death of Mr. Cauvin, who had been taking an active part in the organization’s humanitarian activities for the past 10 years,” the agency said in a statement, adding that it was “extremely concerned about the growing insecurity in Haiti.”

It said its 45 staff members in Haiti would continue to administer humanitarian aid despite the escalating violence in the country.

“We are staying because we don’t see this event as a targeted attack against the ICRC as such,” spokesman Marco Jimenez told The Associated Press. “It represents the growing violence in Haiti, in general. We don’t consider that it affects our ability to run our operations there.”

Increasingly targeted
The ICRC — which defines itself as neutral, impartial and independent — increasingly has been targeted in attacks in recent years.

In 2003, a suicide truck bombing heavily damaged ICRC’s Baghdad headquarters, killing two Red Cross employees and as many as 10 other people outside the compound.

In January, an Iraqi driver for the ICRC was killed near Baghdad.

It also marks the first such act in Haiti against an employee of the ICRC, which has been operating in the country since the early 1990s, Jimenez said.

More than 700 people have been slain in Haiti since September, when supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide stepped up calls for his return from exile in South Africa.

Gangs loyal to Aristide are blamed for most of the violence.

Aristide was ousted in a three-week rebellion in February 2004. His loyalists accuse U.N. peacekeepers of ignoring police abuse against them, including summary executions, arbitrary arrests and beatings.

Woman freed earlier
On Wednesday, hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers raided a slum filled with gangs loyal to Aristide, killing six gunmen and freeing a kidnapped woman reportedly working for the Haitian Red Cross.

The Brazil-led, 7,400-member peacekeeping force has been criticized by U.S. and Haitian officials for not being effective enough in combating gangs.

The U.N. Security Council last week agreed to send an additional 1,000 troops and police ahead of elections scheduled for October and November. Peacekeepers also are creating new rapid-response units, U.N. officials have said.

Since the mission began in June 2004, seven peacekeepers have been killed — including three in shootouts with pro- and anti-Aristide militants.

Rising violence prompted the U.S. Peace Corps to evacuate its 16 volunteers earlier this month, three months after the U.S. Embassy ordered nonessential personnel to leave. On Tuesday, the embassy announced it was scaling back consular services because of the violence and would only offer U.S. entry visas for students and medical emergencies.

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