26 May 2010

PM vows to restore order in Jamaica

9:25 pm on 26 May 2010

Jamaica's Prime Minister has vowed to restore order after at least 31 deaths during an anti-drug offensive in the capital Kingston.

Bruce Golding said he regretted the loss of life as security forces battled fighters loyal to a suspected drug trafficker sought by the United States. Police would continue searching for illegal guns and crime suspects.

The BBC reports the whereabouts of alleged drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke, 41, are unknown. He has thousands of loyal followers who have promised to protect him at any cost.

Police say they have detained more than 200 people and seized arms and ammunition in an operation involving thousands of police and soldiers, heavily armed and backed by armoured cars and helicopters.

New gun battles raged on Tuesday as police and soldiers searched Kingston's Tivoli Gardens district for Mr Coke.

The fighting has intermittently blocked the road to Kingston's airport and forced some flights to be cancelled.

Western countries such as the US and Britain have warned their citizens against travel to Kingston and its surrounding area in the current circumstances.

Prime Minister Golding approved Mr Coke's extradition to the US last week after a delay of nine months.