Thousands of heavily armed police and soldiers have barged past barricades into Jamaica's most violent slums, clashing with defenders of a gang leader sought by the US, leaving at least 60 people dead.
The security forces, reeling from attacks by gangsters loyal to underworld boss Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, were yesterday in the midst of a day-long assault in West Kingston's slums.
On the third day of unrest, gunmen in West Kingston vanished down side streets barricaded with barbed wire and wrecked cars intended to block outsiders.
Coke was still at large despite the raid on his stronghold, national security minister Dwight Nelson said last night.
The prime minister's office announced that Jamaica's ombudsman and the chief public defender were hoping to head to Tivoli Gardens to “ascertain the precise number of persons who have been killed or injured” there.
Near barricaded Hannah Town, which has seen intense firefights since gunmen burned down the police station on Sunday, medical staff at the Kingston Public Hospital have been treating patients as best they can amid the violence, but the blood bank was running low, health minister Rudyard Spencer said.
Police spokesman Corporal Richard Minott said that the fighting in West Kingston alone has killed 26 civilians and one security official. Police had reported that earlier fighting killed two officers and a soldier.