State of emergency declared in Kingston, Jamaica

Monday, May 24, 2010

A state of emergency has been declared in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, after gunmen besieged and fired at police stations, injuring at least two police officers and a civilian, killing another man. Rioters have erected barricades in the city and one police station was set on fire when it was abandoned after officers ran out of ammunition.

The violence comes after the Jamaican authorities announced that they would extradite Christopher Dudus Coke, an alleged drug lord, to the United States on drugs and firearms charges. However Coke is seen by members of the impoverished Tivoli Gardens neighbourhood as a "godfather" like figure, who fulfils roles that the government does not, and his supporters have vowed to protect him, one demonstrator stating "we are willing to die for Dudus".

The Jamaican police accuse the alliance of gunmen from communities across the island state of a desire to "launch coordinated attacks on the security forces" and urged citizens to evacuate the Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town areas of the city.

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding called the attacks "a calculated assault on the authority of the state" and promised that "[t]he criminal element who have placed the society under siege will not be allowed to triumph".