Jamaica’s Golding under attack

Police in Jamaica have more than
500 people in custody after a failed attempt to arrest a suspected drug kingpin
in Kingston, the capital, resulted in violence that left at least 44 people
dead.

Security forces are
“processing” people, with students and young people getting first
priority, the government said.

The news came as Jamaica’s prime
minister rejected allegations that he was “a known criminal
affiliate” of the suspected drug lord, calling them “libellous,”
“scurrilous” and “malicious.”

Prime Minister Bruce Golding
“categorically denied and dismissed as extremely offensive, reports on ABC
news which describe him as ‘a known criminal affiliate of hunted drug lord,’
Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke,” the government said in a statement.

Mr. Golding says he is also
outraged by an article in The Independent, a UK newspaper, that the ‘drug gang
was on [the] payroll of Jamaican Prime Minister.’ He said both publications, by
seeking to link him personally with the alleged drug kingpin, were clearly part
of a conspiracy to undermine the duly elected government of Jamaica,” the
statement continued.

“The reports have made
damaging and libellous assertions and he repudiated the scurrilous and
malicious reporting, which he said must be dismissed with the contempt that it
deserves,” it said.

The news reports about Golding come
after a failed government attempt to capture Coke to extradite him to the
United States.

Jamaican Public Defender Earle
Witter and Political Ombudsman Hero Blair said at least 44 people had died in
the violence. That includes at least two police officers, one soldier with the
Jamaican Defence Force and 26 civilians, Information Minister Daryl Vaz said.

Another 25 civilians have been
wounded, along with six Jamaican troops.

Coke was charged last year in U.S.
federal court with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine and with
conspiracy to illegally traffic in firearms.

WORLDjamaicaSTORY

Supporters of the reputed drug lord see him as a man fulfilling a role government does not.
Photo: BBC News
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