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WEST KINGSTON ENQUIRY: Williams relieved that women and children were not used as human shields

Published:Tuesday | June 30, 2015 | 6:29 PMLivern Barrett, Gleaner Writers, Gleaner Writer

A senior member of the Jamaican military today surmised that the May 2010 police-military operations in the west Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens would have been "very messy" if women and children were used by gunmen as human shield.

Still Lieutenant Colonel Mahatma Williams, commander of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) unit specifically tasked with apprehending drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, said it was "unfortunate" that 74 persons were killed in the operations.

Testifying before the west Kingston commission of enquiry this morning, Williams said he was relieved that women and children were not used as human shields during the fierce gun fights between thugs loyal to Coke and members of the security forces and expressed the view that it was the use of mortars that kept them indoors.

"Whatever it was, we were very happy because it would have been very messy and hard to recover from if women and children were placed between us and the gunmen," he testified.

The commission has heard evidence that no women or children were among the 74 civilians killed during the operations.

Williams also testified that at least two women in nearby Hannah Town indicated that they were relieved to see members of the security forces in their community.

He said the women indicated that they were forced to provide shelter for men who were in the community to help repel the security forces.