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Tuesday, 1 January, 2002, 13:46 GMT
Jamaica murder rate soars
A roadblock in Kingston last July
Violence has plagued the Jamaican capital, Kingston
By the BBC's Claire Penketh

More than 1,100 people have been murdered in Jamaica during the past year - an increase of nearly 30% on the previous year and the highest number ever recorded in a single year.

The Caribbean island of just over 2.5 million people has one of the worst murder rates in the world.

Detective Sergeant Jubert Lllewellyn said that Jamaica was being used increasingly by drug traffickers.

Another cause of so many deaths was fighting between gangs of political activists in the capital, Kingston.

More police recruited

The worst outbreak of inter-gang fighting erupted in the capital in May, leaving 71 dead.

In July, another 28 people were killed in gunfights when police and soldiers moved in to restore order.

The Defence Minister, Peter Phillips, has announced plans to recruit 1,000 more police officers to enforce new anti-crime measures due to be announced this month.

The government also plans to recruit an unspecified number of soldiers.

See also:

23 Jul 01 | Americas
Jamaica buries its dead
14 Jul 01 | Americas
Jamaica counts the cost
12 Jul 01 | Americas
Rights groups condemn Jamaica police
29 Mar 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Jamaica
29 Mar 01 | Americas
Timeline: Jamaica
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