Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated during an attack on his private residence, according to multiple reports.
First lady Martine Moïse was also hospitalized following the attack, The Associated Press reported, noting the country has become increasingly unstable in recent months.
Claude Joseph, the country’s interim prime minister, called the incident a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act," according to the AP.
“The country’s security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti,” Joseph said in a statement. “Democracy and the republic will win.”
It was not immediately clear how the attack was carried out and what form of security Jovenel Moïse had at his residence.
Joseph said some of the attackers spoke in Spanish, but did not say more about a possible motive.
The AP noted that Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, has seen a sharp increase in gang violence, and inflation has risen to untenable levels while food and fuel have become scarce under Moïse's time as president.
Moïse, 53, had been ruling by decree for more than two years and opposition leaders said he had taken steps to increase and consolidate his power.
Haiti, a small and impoverished Caribbean country, was scheduled to hold a general election later this year.
White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care — Presented by Altria — FDA advisers endorse Pfizer vaccine for kids The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - White House to host lawmakers as negotiations over agenda hit critical stage MORE called the attack on the Haitian president “horrific” and “tragic” when asked about it on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe" on Wednesday morning.
“We are still gathering information from this end," Psaki said. "Of course, we will be helpful in any way to the people of Haiti, to the government of Haiti, if there’s an investigation. But we’re still assessing right now, we’re still gathering information and the president, of course, will be briefed by his national security team this morning."
In a statement issued later on Wednesday, President BidenJoe BidenBiden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day Business lobby calls for administration to 'pump the brakes' on vaccine mandate Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Afghanistan reckoning shows no signs of stopping MORE said he was "shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the attack on First Lady Martine Moïse of Haiti."
"We condemn this heinous act, and I am sending my sincere wishes for First Lady Moïse’s recovery," Biden said. "The United States offers condolences to the people of Haiti, and we stand ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti."
--Updated at 7:29 a.m.