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Unrest in Jamaica continues
State of emergency declared after US calls to extradite Jamaican drug lord.
Last Modified: 24 May 2010 18:40 GMT
Jamaica's prime minister vowed tough action against a frenzy of gang violence in Kingston [AFP]

At least two police officers have been killed and six others wounded after a spasm of violence broke out in Jamaica.

Gangs took up arms to fight US calls to extradite a popular alleged drug lord on Monday, just hours after Bruce Golding, Jamaica's prime minister, imposed a state of emergency the previous day.

The emergency, which went into effect at 23:00 GMT on Sunday, covers the western part of Kingston, the Jamaican capital, and St Andrew districts where gunmen fired on two police stations and threw firebombs at another.

Bruce Golding, the Jamaican prime minister, promised a tough response to armed gangs fueling the unrest.

"The criminal element who have placed the society under siege will not be allowed to triumph," Golding said on Monday in a televised address.

The attackers were suspected supporters of Christopher "Dudus" Coke, who the government is hunting over a US extradition request.

Intense gunfire

Elon Parkinson, a presenter on Jamaica's 90 FM radio station, told Al Jazeera: "There is intense gunfire and buildings are being hit by mortar shells. A drone is flying over the area ostensibly identifying targets and as soon as they are identified, soldiers start pelting their houses. So far, five people are said to have been killed and a number of houses have been hit.

"Where it concerns negotiations regarding Mr Coke's surrender - hopes are fading. His loyals indicated to us about an hour ago that any deal between the US and Jamaican authorities would be almost impossible, especially with the way the onslaught is taking place," he said.

Parkison said that 'Coke' has concerns about going into Jamaican custody because his father was supposed to be extradited in 1992.

While being held at a general penitentiary, Coke's father was burnt to death in his prison cell because of what police alleged to be a fire accident.

Barricades

Streets into the Tivoli Gardens area of West Kingston have been barricaded.

Police have called the barricades, which supporters have used to transform the area into a virtual fortress, an "act of cowardice" and urged Coke to turn himself in.
 
Tensions in Jamaica rose over the last week after the prime minister reversed his long-standing refusal to extradite Coke to the US on drugs and arms-trafficking charges.

US prosecutors describe Coke as the leader of the "Shower Posse" that murdered hundreds of people by showering them with bullets during the cocaine wars of the 1980s.

Relations between Jamaica and the US grew strained when Jamaica ignored an earlier extradition request for Coke, who is a supporter of the ruling Jamaica Labour party and wields influence in the volatile inner city constituency that Golding represents.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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