Jamaica Declares State Of Emergency Following Rampant Violence In Montego Bay

Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, reportedly announced a state of emergency for St. James Parish Thursday (Jan. 18) in response to violence and shootings at Montego Bay. The parish is under martial law until things get under control, according to CNN.

“Well, as you can see, it is a very strong police-military presence deployed in the area since this morning,” civil-military cooperation officer at the Jamaica Defence Force Maj. Basil Jarrett told The Gleaner. “It is in response to the rampant criminality – the murder rate, the extortion, the general lawlessness in Montego Bay and other parts of St. James. We are here to see if we can arrest the situation.”

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Security forces started the operation early Thursday morning (Jan. 18), searching houses, vehicles, abandoned buildings, and residents. People may be stopped at checkpoints and asked to verify their identity, CNN reports. Although the parish is under martial law and security forces are given extraordinary powers, the Prime Minister said resident’s rights will still be intact.

Locals are more than happy about the military intervening.

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“This is the best thing that could happen to Montego Bay at this time. It is like a belated Christmas gift,” an elderly resident told The Gleaner.

According to CNN, British and Canadian authorities sent out a warning to people visiting Montego Bay to limit their movements.