Accessibility links

Four Killed As Jamaicans Clash Over Drug Lord

KINGSTON (Reuters) -- Soldiers and police stormed a Kingston slum and traded gunfire with supporters of an alleged Jamaican drug lord who faces extradition to the United States.

At least four people have been killed, including two police officers, one soldier, and a civilian, and several others were wounded in two days of violence.

The government declared a state of emergency on May 23 in volatile sections of the capital as Prime Minister Bruce Golding vowed "strong and decisive action" to restore order.

The limited emergency in Jamaica, a popular Caribbean tourism destination, covered districts where gunmen shot up or set fire to five police stations and carried out carjackings and looting on May 23.

There were unconfirmed reports of additional civilian deaths and reports that military helicopters dropped explosives on the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood of West Kingston where alleged drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke is believed to be hiding out.

The government has called on Coke to surrender to face a U.S. judicial request seeking his extradition on cocaine trafficking and gun-running charges.

U.S. prosecutors have described Coke as the leader of the "Shower Posse," which murdered hundreds of people by showering them with bullets during the cocaine wars of the 1980s.

Helmeted police in flak jackets and brandishing automatic assault rifles fought their way into Tivoli Gardens on May 24 and were engaged in a gunfight with suspected allies of Coke.

Residents had temporarily held them off with makeshift barricades while masked gunmen opened fire on them from high-rise buildings overlooking the barricades, which closed off main streets leading into the area.

Officials said the violence has had no impact so far on the island's bauxite, sugar, and banana producing sectors.