Emergency declared in Jamaica

May 23, 2010 at 11:02 PM

KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 23 (UPI) -- The Jamaican government Sunday declared a state of public emergency in the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew in response to gang attacks on police stations.

The attacks were carried out by supporters of Christopher Coke, a gang leader who is in hiding from authorities as he faces weapons and narcotics charges in the United States, The New York Times reported.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding summoned an emergency meeting of the Cabinet Sunday afternoon on the advice of Jamaican security forces, and the Cabinet decided to declare the state of emergency, the government said in a statement posted on its Web site.

"The Proclamation shall remain in force for a period of one month unless extended by the House of Representatives or revoked earlier," the statement said.

Coke, also known as Dudus, is hiding out in the capital, Kingston. Some supporters of Coke have been seen in the streets armed with high-powered firearms, The Daily Gleaner said.

In an address to the nation Sunday, Golding said two members of the Jamaican security force were shot and wounded Sunday during "orchestrated attacks" on police stations.

"What is taking place is a calculated assault on the authority of the State that cannot be tolerated, and will not be allowed to continue," Golding said.

The prime minister said the emergency declaration will allow authorities to "exercise extraordinary powers necessary to deal with this extraordinary situation" -- including restricting freedom of movement, searching premises and detaining people without warrant.

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