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Undated photograph of Christopher Coke released by the Jamaica Constabulary …
Reuters/Jamaica Constabulary Force
A police operation targeting Jamaican druglord Christopher “Dudus” Coke has sparked gun battles across the capital Kingston, in which up to 60 people have died, including a baby.
Medical sources put the death toll at at least 60, although police say it is 27. Corpses were piled on trucks as gun battles raged in the capital, Kingston. Police and troops are being backed up by helicopters.
Coke, who is wanted by the United States, has been barricaded in to his Tivoli Gardens base by his supporters, using tree branches, cars and refrigerators.
“The violence that has been unleashed on the society by armed, criminal elements must be repelled,” Prime Minister Bruce Golding told parliament. “The operations being carried out under emergency powers are an extraordinary response to an extraordinary challenge to the safety and security of our citizens.”
Opposition MPs accused Golding of creating the problem by not acting sooner.
He declared a state of emergency on Sunday.
“The government deeply regrets the loss of lives of members the security forces, and those of innocent law-abiding citizens who were caught in the crossfire,” said Golding.