Attack on State - Police stations set ablaze Cop shot, civilian slain
Violence rocked sections of the Corporate Area all day yesterday, as armed men brazenly took on the security forces in a sustained attack on police stations in anticipation of the apprehension of Tivoli Gardens don Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
Four police stations came under attack; a civilian succumbed to gunshot wounds during an assault on the Fletcher's Land Police Station; and a policeman sustained a minor gunshot injury.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding said last night that two members of the security forces had been injured, but The Gleaner could not confirm the second case.
There were indications before dawn broke that something was afoot - five days after the court issued a warrant for Coke's arrest.
A Gleaner team observed a large convoy of Jamaica Defence Force vehicles - including armoured trucks - with soldiers heading into Kingston along Michael Manley Boulevard.
The tension, which simmered throughout the week, reached boiling point yesterday, as gunmen loyal to Dudus came out in show of support even as the security forces seemed to retreat as the day wore on.
Gunshots rang out incessantly, causing residents in both People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party strongholds to scurry for cover.
Early in the day, soldiers attempted to remove roadblocks which were being mounted with increasing frequency in the vicinity of Darling Street.
Within an hour, the Darling Street Police Station came under attack.
In the absence of strong opposition from the security forces, the gunmen grew
more brazen as the day progressed and the Denham Town station became the next victim.
Medical staff at the nearby Kingston Public (KPH) and Victoria Jubilee hospitals were on alert, toiling through the unending sounds of gunshots which punctured the atmosphere. Persons on the hospital compound were seen scampering for cover.
The policemen who manned the hospital buildings had their weapons at the ready.
But the shots would not cease in nearby Hannah Town and Denham Town.
As guns blazed with terrifying rapidity, an armoured vehicle hurried into KPH and brought out a member of the Island Special Constabulary Force. The Police High Command confirmed he was shot in the hand. The policeman's condition is not considered serious.
The shots blazed later on the Hannah Town Police Station, forcing police personnel assigned there to retreat from the building.
But it was not only the shots that blazed, as the armed thugs pillaged the station of computers and other equipment before hurling a petrol bomb into the building, setting it on fire.
As black smoke swirled into the overcast skies, a white Toyota Town Ace minivan brought a man into the Accident and Emergency Unit in critical condition.
It is understood that gunmen sprayed his vehicle as they attacked the Fletcher's Land Police Station, hitting the occupant multiple times in the chest. He later died at hospital.
The Police High Command said members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), in attempting to clear roadblocks in downtown Kingston, including Denham Town, came under sustained gun attack from criminals firing rifles.
The police confirmed that there was gunfire last night in the Red Hills Road area, sections of which have allegiance with Labourite strongholds currently under siege in the capital.
Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said yesterday that the security forces would respond in an appropriate manner.
"It is now clear that criminal elements are determined to launch coordinated attacks on the security forces," Ellington said in a statement.
"The JCF wishes to advise the public that these attacks are unprovoked and coincide with our efforts to lawfully serve the public," he added.