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Terrorism & Security

Jamaica gangsters attack police to defend drug lord wanted in US

Violence broke out in Jamaica over the request to extradite Christopher 'Dudus' Coke to the US on charges of drug trafficking. Mr. Coke has barricaded himself in a Kingston slum, and his supporters are attacking police stations across the capital.

By Ben HancockCorrespondent / May 24, 2010

A riot police officer takes aim during an outbreak of violence in West Kingston, Jamaica, in this video grab taken Sunday. Jamaica declared a state of emergency in two parishes of its capital, Kingston, on Sunday after shooting and firebomb attacks on police stations by suspected supporters of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, an alleged drug lord who faces extradition to the US.

Reuters TV / Reuters

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Kingston was in a state of emergency Monday morning after gangsters fired on four police stations in the Jamaican capital, lashing out against a move to extradite an alleged drug lord to the United States.

One of the stations was set ablaze, an officer was wounded, and a civilian was killed in attacks around the city. Meanwhile, supporters of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, wanted in New York on charges of arms and drug trafficking, descended from the barricaded slum of Tivoli Gardens to help defend him. At least two security officials have been wounded.

The violence, to some degree, was expected. The US State Department warned in advance on its website that heightened danger would likely follow the May 17 announcement by Bruce Golding, Jamaican prime minister, of support for Mr. Coke’s extradition. Canada and Britain also issued travel alerts Friday.

But the authorities appear to have been caught flat-footed, writes the Jamaica Observer.

To begin with, how is it that criminals and their supporters in and around Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston were able to set up massive barricades blocking entrance to the community without the immediate or pre-emptive intervention of the security forces? And how is it that a large protest march which we assume was unauthorised was allowed to proceed through the streets of downtown Kingston with a section of that march coming within hailing distance of the parliament building? ...

Could it be that at an operational level, the police High Command is so lacking in vision and proactive capacity that it did not rehearse and plan for the events of last week? Or is it that the much-pronounced operational independence of the police is no more than a poorly-constructed mirage.

In a separate report, the Observer notes that police were trying to minimize casualties by evacuating the slum’s “law-abiding residents.” But buses provided by the authorities were sitting empty, a sign that residents had either been coerced to stay or were too frightened to leave their homes.

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