HELICOPTER gunships buzzed over the Jamaican capital last night as police and soldiers clashed for a second day with masked gunmen seeking to prevent the extradition of an alleged drug baron to the United States.
The gunmen attacked Kingston’s central police station as authorities struggled to enforce a state of emergency imposed on Sunday after an uprising by supporters of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who is accused of running an international drug gang called The Shower Posse. He is wanted for alleged arms and drug trafficking in the United States.
The violence spread yesterday beyond the Tivoli Gardens area in the west of the city, barricaded earlier by Mr Coke’s supporters. Police and soldiers again came under heavy fire in west Kingston and from gunmen trying to erect barricades in a poor section of St Catherine parish, while a police station in an outlying area of Kingston parish was raked with bullets.
Two police officers and a civilian have been killed so far, with the unrest effectively shutting down the capital’s central business district. Most people avoided the normally busy area yesterday as the island marked its Labour Day holiday.
Britain, Canada and the United States have issued travel advisories warning of unrest in the popular Caribbean tourist destination. The US said it was suspending non-essential services at its embassy in Kingston because of the “deteriorating situation”.
The US Justice Department has named Mr Coke, sometimes known as “Shortman” – he is 5ft 4in (1.62m) tall – as one of the world’s most dangerous drug kingpins.