Tensions between Dominican Republic and Haiti flare after a brief armed standoff at the border

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The Dominican Republic on Thursday accused Haiti of multiple border violations in the latest dispute involving their shared frontier on the island of Hispaniola.

Foreign Minister Roberto Álvarez held a news conference on the issue just days after an armed confrontation between Dominican soldiers and members of a Haitian environmental government brigade.

The brief standoff stemmed from apparent confusion over border limits. It occurred Tuesday on the northern tip of the shared island near one of more than 300 concrete barriers that delineate the border.

“What happened is a flagrant violation of Dominican territory,” Álvarez said. “We make a strong call to the Haitian authorities to assume control of order in their territory and avoid situations that continue to aggravate the already delicate situation.”

A spokesman for the office of Haiti’s prime minister declined comment on Thursday and referred to a statement the government issued on Wednesday in which it accused Dominican soldiers of violating Haitian territory.

It also said that Haitian Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Victor Généus spoke with Álvarez after Tuesday’s incident, and that both sides agreed to try and calm tensions to avoid further escalation.

Long simmering tensions between the two countries boiled over in recent months when Dominican President Luis Abinader announced he would stop issuing visas to Haitians and closed all land, air and sea borders for nearly a month in an economic blow to Haiti.

The border closures were sparked by an ongoing dispute over construction of a canal in Haitian territory targeting water from a river that runs along the border.

Abinader partially reopened the borders last month, although the visa ban remains in place, and Haitians are not allowed into the Dominican Republic for work, education, tourism, medical issues or other purposes.