Death toll rising in Jamaica

Gun battles raging in the Jamaican capital have left more than 60 people dead, hospital sources said May 25, as troops fanned out across the city hunting for accused drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke. Police put the death toll at 27, but Prime Minister Bruce Golding admits the actual figure may be much higher. “The government deeply regrets the loss of lives of members of the security forces, and those of innocent law abiding citizens who were caught in the cross fire,” Golding said. Hospital workers said the victims were mostly civilians.

Hundreds of police and army troops have been sent into the impoverished Tivoli Gardens district to hunt down “Dudus” Coke, and are meeting stiff resistance from his supporters. Witnesses reported seeing three trucks loaded with bodies, including a baby, unload their grim cargo at a morgue in one of the city’s main hospital complexes.

The violence appears to be spreading beyond Tivoli Gardens. Two of the civilian casualtiess were reportedly shot by suspected supporters of Coke in Spanish Town, 14 miles west of Kingston.

Tivoli Gardens residents complained of being “roughed up” and kept inside their homes by soldiers. “We are hungry, we have no food and we cannot go outside,” one woman told Reuters by telephone. “Some of us are desperate. Whenever we try to go outside our homes, the soldiers chase us back in and tell us to stay inside,” she said. (Global Ganja Report, May 26)

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  1. They chase you back inside
    They chase you back inside for your safety, you dumb ass. I am a Jamaican, and I really hate to say it , but some of my people are so stupid, they dont have a clue or understand a thing about reality. They dont see that protecting Dudus is tearing up the country and killing off some innocent people that dont have anything to do with what’s been going on. WAKE UP mi PEOPLE….PLEASE

  2. Jamaica: slaughter of the innocents?
    Residents of the besieged Kingston neighborhood of Tivoli Gardens have accused army troops of shooting indiscriminately and burning victims’ bodies in their search for wanted drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke. Army commanders say the slain men were defending barricades erected to prevent police from executing the arrest warrant. But residents say that many of the victims were innocent bystanders.

    Annette Marshall, trapped in her home in Tivoli Gardens since May 23, said that troops had been shooting erratically and firing rocket-propelled grenades as they bulldozed homes in the area. “From Sunday they come in and they just start shooting wildly,” she told the London Times by phone. “Them shot on my window. Them throw bombs and blow out my window.”

    Marshall, who sells jewellery at a local market, said that soldiers shot her neighbor dead when he opened his back door to see what was happening. When his elderly mother went out to help him, she was also shot and wounded, she said. The woman was taken to hospital, and Marshall said she is now caring for the neighbor’s four children as well as her own two youngsters. “The kids are traumatized and keep crying,” she said. She said that the household had run out of food and that she was unable to go out for more provisions. “We’re starving,” she said.

    Marshall made claims—echoed by other Tivoli Gardens residents in calls to local radio stations—that soldiers were hauling young men out of houses and shooting them in the street. She also said that she had seen security forces burning bodies near the abandoned Public Works Department building near her home. “They shoot them in the head, throw them on the fire and light the fire,” she said. “They were burning the people. I had to come in, so I could not count how many.”

    Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who represents Tivoli Gardens in Parliament, has asked Jamaica’s public defender, Earl Witter, and the political ombudsman, Herro Blair, to visit Tivoli Gardens and investigate the claims. (London Times, May 27)

  3. Amnesty International calls for Jamaica probe
    Amnesty International has called for an investigation into the violence in Kingston this week, saying that Jamaican police had a “dire” human rights track record. With the official death toll at 73—including three members of the security forces—the manhunt for Christopher “Dudus” Coke has been suspended. Many Jamaicans believe the government wants Dudus “dead or alive.” Authorities, however, insist he will be arrested and brought to justice. (BBC News, May 29)

  4. Dudus Coke pleads guilty in NYC
    Christopher “Dudus” Coke pleaded not guilty June 25 to drug and gun running charges in Manhattan Federal Court. Outside, more than a dozen local relatives and supporters chanted “He’s a Robin Hood! He’s a Robin Hood!” Coke was captured by Jamaican police at a highway checkpoint June 22. (NY Daily News, WSJ, June 25)