Jamacia Police and Drug Gangs Clash in Kingston

Just as millions of American, Canadian and Europeans prepare to go on Vacation (or holiday if you prefer) this summer; battles between drug lords and the Jamaican Police forces are battling or control of Kingston. From Yahoo News:

Jamaica’s security forces clashed with masked gunmen allied with an alleged drug kingpin for a second day Monday as an intensifying multi-front battle against gangs spread to volatile slums outside the capital.

Police and soldiers came under heavy fire in the West Kingston stronghold of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who is trying to avoid extradition to the U.S. on drug and arms trafficking charges. Military helicopters with mounted guns buzzed above the impoverished area between plumes of black smoke.

The working class area around West Kingston is under siege:

West Kingston, which includes the Trenchtown slum where reggae superstar Bob Marley was raised, is the epicenter of the violence. But on Monday, security forces were also under attack in areas outside that patchwork of gritty slums in the capital on Jamaica’s southeastern coast, far from the virtually crime-free tourist resorts on the north shore.

Gunmen shot at police while trying to erect barricades in a poor section of St. Catherine parish, which is just outside the two parishes where the government on Sunday implemented a monthlong state of emergency.

A police station in an outlying area of Kingston parish also was showered with bullets by a roving band of gunmen with high-powered rifles.

Security Minister say police are in control:

Security Minister Dwight Nelson said “police are on top of the situation,” but gunfire was reported in several poor communities and brazen gunmen shot up Kingston’s central police station. Loud explosions rang across West Kingston on Monday afternoon as police assaulted Coke’s slum stronghold of Tivoli Gardens.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force said two officers have been killed and six injured during firefights with criminal gangs whose arsenals rival police firepower.

“The loss of these two officers and the injury to the six, while difficult to deal with, will only serve as a rallying call for the police to remain strong, committed and firm as we continue to encounter brazen criminals,” said Police Commissioner Owen Ellington.

Ellington said “scores of criminals” from gangs across the Caribbean island had joined the fighting in the Kingston area, where the fear of gun violence has driven many to live behind gated walls with key-pad entry systems and 24-hour security.

AP via Yahoo News has more.

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