Gunfire shook parts of Jamaica's capital Kingston yesterday as security forces fought the armed supporters of a fugitive alleged drug lord in a fourth day of violence that has killed nearly 50 people.
Soldiers and police were still hunting Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke (42), a suspected Jamaican drug “don” whose extradition is being sought by the United States on charges of cocaine trafficking and gun-running.
Streets in the capital of the Caribbean tourist island were virtually deserted, with very little traffic and most schools and many businesses staying shut. Soldiers and police patrolled in armoured vehicles and SUVs.
Most of the dead were young men, suspected to be gang-member supporters of Coke, who were killed when heavily armed security forces on Monday stormed the Tivoli Gardens slum that US prosecutors say served as a “garrison” of his supporters.
US prosecutors have described Coke as the leader of the “Shower Posse,” which murdered hundreds of people by showering them with bullets during “cocaine wars” for turf in the 1980s.
The Government, declaring the country is “under siege” from criminal gangs, has vowed a tough response against crime, which has in the past damaged Jamaica's reputation as a popular vacation destination for US and European tourists.