Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Whole Army on the Streets as 20 Die in Jamaican Riots

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Whole Army on the Streets as 20 Die in Jamaican Riots

Article excerpt

THE ENTIRE Jamaican army is being deployed to restore calm across the island today after 20 people died in three days of politically charged violence.

Helicopters roared overhead and armoured personnel carriers rumbled through the streets of the capital, Kingston, as opposition supporters put up roadblocks and fears of looting forced shops and offices to close.

Gunmen have engaged police and soldiers in street shootouts since Saturday in the notoriously dangerous Tivoli Gardens neighbourhood, a stronghold of poor supporters of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party.

Prime Minister PJ Patterson said: "The government cannot stand idly by and allow criminal elements to hold this country to ransom. There must be full deployment ... to prevent anticipated problems and to ensure the restoration of law and order."

He said the military "will concentrate mainly in the maintenance of cordons and the enforcement of curfews", freeing more police to make arrests.

Police said at least 20 people had been killed since Saturday. A second policeman died yesterday when gunmen opened fire on his car at a roadblock in the capital.

Demonstrators in Spanish Town, near Kingston, also looted three stores, police said.

The violence started when police and soldiers moved into Tivoli Gardens to search for guns following a spate of gang fighting. Police said snipers strafed the streets with automatic gunfire and some people attacked them with homemade bombs.

Demonstrators mounted roadblocks across the country, including in the northern tourist resort of Ocho Rios, many saying they were protesting about a police crackdown on neighbourhoods supporting the Labour party.

In the Grant's Pen area of the capital Beverly Brown, 48, among 30 protesters at a makeshift roadblock, said: "The police are downtown killing people, but only Labourites. …

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