At least 44 civilians killed in battles between police and gunmen

  • Uploaded on 24 Jul 2015

    (26 May 2010)
    AP TELEVISION
    1. Various of makeshift barricades across streets, one with overturned bus
    2. Wide of empty street of closed businesses
    3. Soldiers stopping vehicle at checkpoint
    4. Various of soldiers checking men for weapons
    5. Armoured vehicle driving down road
    6. Wide of empty street with closed shops and businesses
    7. Cars and police vehicles driving outside entrance to Kingston Public Hospital
    8. Various of exterior of hospital
    9. Burnt-out car on road
    10. Wide top shot of Kingston
    11. Top shot of Tivoli Gardens area
    12. Various top shots of Kingston
    STORYLINE
    Jamaican security forces on Wednesday claimed a tenuous hold over the stronghold of a gang leader sought by the US, but only after battles that killed at least 44 civilians, the country's official ombudsman said.
    Downtown Kingston remained mostly calm on Wednesday morning but officers and soldiers were still fighting holdout defenders of Christopher Coke, known as "Dudus," in pockets of his home neighbourhood of Tivoli Gardens.
    Coke was still at large after nearly three days of street battles.
    Independent evaluations have put the number of civilian dead at 44 in West Kingston alone, said Bishop Herro Blair, Jamaica's most prominent evangelical pastor.
    Police have said that at least four soldiers and police officers also have died in fighting in West Kingston and elsewhere around the capital.
    Police earlier reported at least 26 civilian deaths and the country's embattled Prime Minister Bruce Golding promised an independent investigation into all civilian deaths during the operation.
    Supporters of Coke began massing in the Tivoli Gardens area last week after Golding dropped his nine-month refusal to extradite him to the US.
    Coke has ties to Golding's Labor Party, which gets a large number of votes from the Tivoli Gardens area Golding represents in parliament.
    Government officials told reporters that all the dead civilians in West Kingston were men.
    But people inside the slums told local radio stations there had been indiscriminate shootings during the assault that police and soldiers launched on Monday.
    The gunmen fighting for Coke say he provides services and protection to the poor West Kingston community - all funded by a criminal empire that seemed untouchable until the US demanded his extradition.
    Coke has built a loyal following and turned the neighbourhood into his stronghold.
    US authorities say he has been trafficking cocaine to the streets of New York City since the mid-1990s, allegedly hiring island women to hide the drugs on themselves on flights to the US.
    Golding had stonewalled the US extradition request for nine months, straining relations.
    A US State Department report earlier this year questioned the Caribbean island's reliability as an ally in the war against drugs, and Golding's stance drew domestic opposition that threatened his political career.
    The government imposed a month long state of emergency for the tense Kingston area on Sunday, after an eruption of violence by gangsters that security forces called unprovoked.
    Coke's influence extends well beyond the capital.
    Police say gunmen from gangs that operate under the umbrella of his Shower Posse elsewhere on the island have been flocking to his defence.
    The violence has not touched the tourist meccas along the island's north shore, more than 100 miles (160 kilometres) from Kingston, or the nearby Montego Bay airport.
    However, Jamaican officials said they were very concerned about the impact on tourism.


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