Heavily armed members of the Jamaica Defence Force had to be hurriedly dispatched to the hilly terrains of Rockfort, in east Kingston, yesterday, where gunmen had sections of the community under siege since Monday night.
“This morning (Tuesday) the gunmen set another house on fire in the Glasspole Avenue area, where they had attempted to raze two other houses on Monday evening,” Acting Deputy Superintendent Winston ‘Prowler’ Lawrence told The Gleaner yesterday.
Deputy Superintendent Noel Christie, who escorted a fire unit into the area to put out the blaze, was returning to a service vehicle when gunmen pumped several bullets into the car, smashing the back windscreen. Dodging bullets, the senior officer had to scurry for cover.
The sporadic shootings, which continued into Tuesday morning, forced a number of residents to stay indoors, until a large contingent of police and military personnel swooped down on the area.
Reports are that the violence has claimed the lives of at least 11 people since September 23. Two of the victims were killed by members of the security forces in alleged shoot-outs. Things took a turn for the worse in the community two weeks ago, after a 26-year-old woman, Serita Ballentine, was murdered by gunmen.
While nobody was taken into custody for questioning yesterday, the three influential area leaders, People’s National Party activists Anthony ‘Tego’ Brown and George ‘Binero’ Flash and a man known only as ‘Mandez’, who recently returned from the United Kingdom, were still behind bars up to late yesterday evening.
The men, along with several others, were picked up by the police on Sunday during a major operation in the area.
Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Derrick Smith, says he is concerned about the escalating murder figures and called on the Police High Command and National Security Minister Dr. Peter Phillips to take note of the developments and work in tandem with the Jamaica Labour Party to ensure that the situation deteriorates no further.
“The situation is even more frightening in light of the upcoming elections and the fear that is being driven into the hearts and minds of the electorate as to the ability of the police to ensure their security in exercising their democratic right,” Mr. Smith said.