Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

74 killed in hunt for Jamaican 'drugs lord' Coke

People look at soldiers on patrol in Kingston, Jamaica (AP)

Security forces have gone from door to door in a bullet-riddled Jamaican slum and said at least 74 people had been killed in four days of gun battles as they searched for a reputed drug lord.

The target of the manhunt, Christopher "Dudus" Coke, was nowhere to be found.

"We are still searching for Mr Coke," said Deputy Police Chief Glenmore Hinds. "Certainly we can't disclose where we are looking."

Mr Hinds said police and soldiers have found 73 bodies, three of which were killed in incidents not related to the raid.

"The 73 bodies we're speaking about are all civilians," Mr Hinds said. "But civilians are sometimes gunmen and gunwomen."

He confirmed that three police officers were killed in the fighting, and the army earlier said a soldier was killed as well. Twenty-eight security forces were injured. Mr Hinds denied claims by residents that police were burning some bodies.

Security forces were in control in Tivoli Gardens, the Kingston slum where Coke enjoys widespread support and is referred to as "President". They let residents move about freely beginning this afternoon.

Sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the neighbouring slum of Denham Town, where some streets remained barricaded by local gang members.

A crowd of some 100 people in Denham Town pointed at May Pen cemetery, shouting to reporters: "There are a lot of bodies over there." Soldiers patrolled the cemetery and barred anyone from entering.

More than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the four days of fighting, most of them in Tivoli Gardens. Police were searching for weapons, but so far have found only six weapons and 7,000 rounds of ammunition, Mr Hinds said.

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