(Reuters) - Truckers in the Dominican Republic blocked a key border crossing into neighboring Haiti on Friday, bringing trade between the two countries to a virtual halt to protest a string of trucker kidnappings in Haiti.
Blas Peralta, the president of the Dominican Republic's leading truckers union, said three Dominican truckers were kidnapped on Thursday near the Haitian town of Fond Parisien after delivering cargo in Haiti's capital.
The abductions followed media reports in the Dominican Republic this week that armed men robbed and shot a cement truck driver while he drove through a Haitian slum.
On Friday, truckers parked their vehicles along a road in the Dominican city of Jimani, a busy border crossing between the two countries.
Peralta said truckers were refusing to travel into Haiti until Haitian authorities took additional steps to ensure their safety.
"We are not going to risk our lives," he said. "Going into Haiti is like going into hell. There is no security."
The foreign ministry of the Dominican Republic said the country's ambassador in Haiti was working with Haitian authorities to help the truckers.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti together make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and trade between the two countries last year totaled $1.2 billion.
Dominicans evacuate consulate as violence in Haiti continues
DominicanToday.com - Dominican personnel in the consulate at Ouanaminthe, Haiti, left the premises on safety concerns, as the violent incidents of the last few days in towns near the border with Dominican Republic continue.
Local media report that all nine Dominicans were evacuated in the heels of several protests staged in Haitian towns near the northwestern border.
On Thursday UN Haiti Stabilization Mission (Minustah) forces rescued 14 Dominican truck drivers, who were retained by Haitians protesting against the lack of electricity and water in the city Trou Du Nord, Haiti.
One of the drivers said they were stoned fired upon by enraged Haitians who’ve held them for more than five hours as well, before their rescue by Minustah soldiers.
Nelson Rodriguez, quoted by news source listin.com.do, said a hurled stone injured his foot amid the melee. “They took us out of the trucks and tractor trailers at gunpoint.”
On Saturday two truck drivers sped across the border bridge near Dajabón, where they denounced being fired on by Haitians who allegedly tried to kidnap them.
There were no reports of incidents late Saturday.