Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Consecutive attacks on security forces no coincidence says prime minister

Published:Saturday | September 26, 2020 | 3:42 PM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the country should not take what appears to be a series of attacks on the security forces as mere coincidence.

He was reacting to the killing of Constable Kemar Francis of the Hunt's Bay Police in St Andrew, who died in hospital this morning after his patrol team was attacked by gunmen last night in Maxfield, St Andrew. 

Before him, a 21 year-old soldier, Private Reneil King was killed in Clarendon on Friday, while on an police-military narcotics operation. 

"The killing of members of our security forces represents an attack on the Jamaican state. The series of attacks on security forces cannot be treated as coincidental," Holness said in a release from the Office of the Prime Minister this afternoon.

"The Jamaican state must speak with one voice against this emerging trend where criminals are emboldened to target our security forces. It is not merely a matter of condemning these killings, the entire society, it’s institutions and its leaders must clearly stand against criminals, and not empower criminals by their pronouncements and actions," he said. 

The prime minister continued: "When the society is ambivalent in its pronouncements and actions, criminals interpret this as weakness and increase their level and intensity of crime and disorder."

Groups sending mixed signals

Earlier today, Minister of National Security, lashed some stakeholder groups, whom he said were sending mixed signals that have been weakening the country's response to the problem of crime and violence. 

"Too many stakeholders have been sending conflicting signals about their support for law enforcement and fail to recognise that it will take nothing short of serious strategic and sustained efforts to successfully tackle crime," Chang was quoted in a statement posted by the Jamaica Constabulary Force on Twitter.  

He called for those groups to demonstrate in their posture that they do not tolerate or prioritise the lives of criminals over the safety and security of law-abiding citizens and the security forces. 

In a similar release following Private King's killing yesterday, the prime minister suggested that criminals were becoming emboldened. 

"We are now seeing worrying signs where these criminals are brazen enough to attack and challenge our security forces. This is a deeply troubling turn in our fight against crime," he said. 

"The Jamaican state will not be deterred and we will be relentless in our pursuit of those responsible. The criminals will be brought to Justice," Holness concluded. 

Four policemen have now been killed in attacks by gunmen since the start of the year. Three, including a police superintendent, died from injuries sustained during an operation in Horizon Park, St Catherine on June 12. 

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