Haiti’s President, Jovenel Moïse, was killed during an attack at his private home early Wednesday morning, Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph confirmed in a statement.

While the details remain unclear how Moïse died,  Joseph said a group of unidentified individuals attacked the head of state at his private home around 1 a.m. on July 7. He was 53 years old.

Haiti First Lady Martine Moïse was shot during the attack and is currently receiving treatment.

Joseph calls the assassination a “heinous, inhumane and barbaric act” and is currently asking for calm in the nation.

“The security situation in the country is under the control of the Haitian National Police and the Haitian Armed Forces,” his statement added. “All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the State and to protect the Nation.”

Moïse’s death comes at a time when violence in the capital city Port-au-Prince has escalated over the last few months, ultimately claiming the lives of many citizens. The president has spent the last few years as a controversial figure as many people in the country were challenging his fifth year of presidency.

Haiti’s president wasn’t sworn into office until February 2017 – two years after the election as the inauguration was delayed over allegations of voter fraud. There was a presidential runoff that was postponed twice over security concerns, as we previously reported. Moïse claimed his five-year term should end in 2022 because he wasn’t sworn in until February 2017.

Critics, however, argued that he should have stepped down on February 7, 2021, because of a constitutional provision that starts the clock once a president is elected, and not when he takes office.

Over the last few years, protestors and activists accused Moïse of failing to organize parliamentary elections leaving many Haitians unrepresented, which opponents claim is the reason for the increase in crime— including women and girls being kidnapped and gang-raped at alarming rates.

At the same time, what is known as the poorest country in Latin America, is facing a dire economic situation as more than 60% of its residents are living in poverty.

The political, social, and economic crisis is what sparked the hashtag #FreeHaiti is trending on social media to bring awareness to the situation.