Tires set alight by protesters burn in Port-au-Prince Haiti, on February 17, 2019 (HECTOR RETAMAL)

Port-au-Prince (AFP) – Haiti has charged several Americans and other foreign nationals with criminal conspiracy after their arrest with assault rifles and other weapons, the national police said.

The group was detained in central Port-au-Prince Sunday evening and includes five Americans, a Serb, a Russian and a Haitian, police said.

They gave no indication about the motives of the group and said interrogations will continue.

The arrests came 10 days after protests began against corruption and poverty in the Caribbean nation. At least seven people have died during demonstrations demanding the ouster of President Jovenel Moise.

Police said the men were detained at a checkpoint near the central bank.

They are also charged with illegal possession of weapons for allegedly having with them six assault rifles, six pistols, ammunition, bullet proof vests, drones, telecommunications gear and two vehicles.

Canada, one of Haiti’s largest international donors, on Thursday temporarily closed its embassy because of “the current volatility,” while the State Department in Washington ordered the departure of all “non-emergency US personnel.”

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