Jamaican military activates reserves after new wave of violence in Kingston
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – The Jamaican military activated all reserves Thursday to help patrol troubled areas of Kingston after a new wave of politically driven gang violence in the capital.
The Jamaican Defense Force ordered about 900 reservists to report to military installations Friday morning.
Fighting among neighborhood gangs with clashing political loyalties already has left more than 100 people dead this year in the capital.
Soldiers have been helping police patrol several neighborhoods, including West Kingston, which has seen the heaviest fighting. But Deputy Superintendent of Police James Adams said the police still need about 1,000 more officers on the street to control the violence.
A 40-year-old woman was shot and killed by gunmen in West Kingston on Wednesday, and drive-by shootings left two people dead in the area Monday.
Police believe the killings were retaliation for a shooting Sunday night in a part of West Kingston dominated by supporters of the governing People’s National Party. Gunmen shooting from a car killed two men and injured 14 in that attack.
In recent months, violence has erupted in Kingston between gangs that support the governing party and the opposition Jamaica Labor Party. The gangs, used in the 1970s and 1980s to bring voters to the polls, still maintain strong party loyalties, and neighborhoods are often divided along political lines.
Soldiers also were deployed to assist police after fighting that began last month between rival gangs in Mountain View, on the eastern outskirts of Kingston. At least 14 were shot and killed.
The fighting in West Kingston flared in May, leaving 71 people dead in several weeks. In July, 28 others were killed in gunfights when police and soldiers moved in to confront the gangs. After several days of violence, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson deployed the entire 3,000-member army across the island.
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