Violence In Jamaica Continues As Police Hunt For Christopher “Dudus” Coke

Police clashed with suspected supporters of Christopher "Dudus" Coke. Image taken on Monday.
Police clashed with suspected supporters of Christopher "Dudus" Coke. Image taken on Monday.
Police clashed with suspected supporters of Christopher "Dudus" Coke. Image taken on Monday.
Police clashed with suspected supporters of Christopher "Dudus" Coke. Image taken on Monday.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — At least 31 people have died during an anti-drug offensive in Kingston, Jamaica’s Tivoli Gardens district and Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding has vowed to restore order. The violence has been sparked by a manhunt for Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who is wanted in the United States on drug and gun trafficking charges.

Golding said he regretted the loss of life in the West Kingston neighborhood, but vowed keep looking for Coke and other suspects.

“We are facing a crisis … The measures are extraordinary, but they are extraordinary responses to extraordinary actions taken by some,” Golding told parliament, according to Reuters.

Jamaican police say they have detained more than 200 people and seized arms and ammunition, but fighting still continues between supporters of Coke and law enforcement. At times, the fighting has blocked off the road to Kingston’s airport and forced some flights to be cancelled.

Coke has attained Robin Hood-like status through much of West Kingston, due to his use of a mix of violence, charity and corruption. Much of the unrest in Kingston stems is between those who want him extradited and those who see him as a benefactor and philanthropist.

Coke also is rumored to have ties to the governing Jamaica Labor Party, which allegedly uses Coke’s gunmen to intimidate election rivals in Tivoli Gardens.

Some see the violence in Kingston as a way to put Jamaica on a path to reform. “I think it certainly has been a wake up call for the entire country,” said Peter Bunting of the opposition People’s National Party, according to the Associated Press.

The Jamaican government has issued a month-long state of emergency and about 10 percent of the capital is cordoned by security forces.

Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch

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