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Monday, 23 July, 2001, 05:31 GMT 06:31 UK
Jamaica buries its dead
Funeral for 13 people killed in violence in Jamaica
The 13 victims were buried en masse
Thousands of people turned out on the streets of the Jamaican capital Kingston on Sunday for the funeral of 13 people killed during violence two weeks ago.

Security was tight as mourners, many clad in black or wearing black armbands, streamed into May Pen Cemetery, one of Kingston's largest burial grounds.

I am filled with sorrow for all these people that are here, dead, through no fault of their own

Edward Seaga, Jamaica Labour Party
The 13 victims - all civilians, aged from 15 to 83 - were lowered into a long single, grave.

At least 28 people, including four policemen and soldiers, died during gun battles that began on 7 July in gang strongholds of West Kingston.

Prime Minister PJ Patterson called out the army two days later to help restore order.

The services passed off peacefully, with relatives singing hymns and weeping in front of coffins laden with flowers.

Occasionally though, a mourner shouted angrily, vowing revenge against the government and police.


May Pen cemetery is close to the Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town districts of the city, where the worst of the violence erupted.

Jamaican opposition leader Edward Seaga
Edward Seaga: "I am filled with sorrow"
Opposition Jamaica Labour Party leader Edward Seaga told mourners: "I am filled with sorrow for all these people that are here, dead, through no fault of their own."

Mr Seaga, a former prime minister now in the opposition, accused security forces of firing indiscriminately on the streets of Tivoli Gardens, a JLP stronghold, to foment unrest for political reasons.

The prime minister has said gunmen opened fire on police during a weapons sweep through the inner city areas, where gangs linked to the two major political parties operate.

However, some people have claimed that they came under random police sniper fire during the fighting, and there have been accusations from civil rights groups that the police overreacted.

Rival communities

Jamaica's two major political parties, Mr Patterson's People's National Party and Seaga's JLP, armed political supporters in Kingston's inner cities during the 1970s to secure influence and votes in poor districts.

Police patrolling in Kingston
Police complain they are out-gunned by drugs gangs
These 'garrison' communities, as they are called, remain fiercely loyal to the rival parties.

As a result, Jamaica has suffered frequent outbursts of inner-city violence in the months before national elections.

More than 500 people were killed before 1980 elections and dozens more died before national votes in 1993 and 1997.

See also:

14 Jul 01 | Americas
Jamaica counts the cost
12 Jul 01 | Americas
Rights groups condemn Jamaica police
11 Jul 01 | Americas
Army quells Jamaica unrest
10 Jul 01 | Americas
Gun battles shake Jamaica
10 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Blairs to visit Jamaica despite violence
10 Jul 01 | Americas
Jamaica seeks help to stop violence
29 Mar 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Jamaica
29 Mar 01 | Americas
Timeline: Jamaica
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