U.S. State Department updates travel alert for Jamaica after deadly clashes

May 26th, 2010 - 2:12 am ICT by BNO News  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The United States on Tuesday updated a travel alert for Jamaica after deadly clashes between security forces and gunmen left at least 30 people dead and more than 25 injured.

“Jamaican Defense Forces are engaged in an operation to arrest an alleged drug and weapons trafficker and access to the Norman Manley International Airport has been blocked on an intermittent basis by gun battles between criminal elements and police,” the U.S. State Department said.

A number of flights into and out of Kingston were canceled on Tuesday as violence in the city continued to escalate. “The possibility exists that unrest could spread beyond the general Kingston area,” the U.S. State Department added.

The U.S. Embassy in Kingston is reportedly taking extra security precautions, including the cancellation of official travel by American personnel into Kingston.

U.S. citizens in Jamaica are advised to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when venturing outside their residences or hotels.

On Monday, large explosions were heard in the Jamaican capital on Monday, a day after Prime Minister Bruce Golding declared a state of emergency for parts of Kingston and St Andrew.

A large contingent of police and soldiers converged on the Tivoli Gardens - the community that is under siege from alleged drug lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, who faces extradition to the United States.

According to local media, 26 civilians were killed and 25 injured in West Kingston during the military operation. Three men were killed by gunmen in the McCooks Pen community and additionally one person was killed in Waterford.

Prime Minister Golding has promised to crack down on the violence, which he described as a “calculated assault on the authority of the State.”

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