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Page last updated at 22:19 GMT, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 23:19 UK

Jamaica unrest: Your stories

Jamaican security forces are fighting with gunmen in the capital Kingston as they attempt to capture the alleged drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke.

Kingston residents have been contacting BBC News online with their experiences.

Send us your stories.

LUCI, RED HILLS, KINGSTON
Luci, Kingston

We heard gunshots yesterday, all afternoon. We could hear the battle moving through the city. Listen and you can hear straight away where they are fighting.

I had to rush home from my friend's house when we heard they were burning shops in Red Hills Avenue. We got out of there fast.

Many businesses around here are closed today. Many innocent Jamaicans are being held at ransom.

But the fact remains that Dudus has kept the peace in an area the police found uncontrollable. Mr Coke has helped people the government overlooked and undervalued.

Even if he is caught or turns himself in, there will still be the issue of life after Dudus. What will the people have to look forward to? Turf wars, petty thieves, starvation?

There are always three sides to every story yours, mine and the truth and that is not always black and white.

Reality check

The reality for Jamaicans is this: Yes, we are for the most part law abiding citizens who work hard for what we have, but some people like the residents of Tivoli are impoverished. Their dons look after them.

Armed police patrolling Kingston

They only see politicians near elections; they cannot knock on the prime minister's door, or a Cherry Gardens resident's house asking for a job or food for their kids.

This situation has been ongoing for years, so who will keep the peace when Dudus is gone? I do agree that one man cannot hold a whole city at ransom for an eternity, but this one man has also kept the peace for as long as he has been there.

Ironically, if you check the history of Jamaica it is the same politicians that have caused the situation, it has just spun beyond what they can control. Do not for a minute think that this has gone on without their knowledge, without them turning a blind eye. Keep in mind that our very PM is the representative for that area.

I hope that this situation will be resolved soon with as little loss of life as possible. I pray for my friends and family and those in the police forces.

CAROL AND ADRIAN HILTON, RED HILLS, KINGSTON

Adrian, 15, high school student:

I live uptown in Red Hills - not far from Spanish Town. We have heard the gunfire from here. The violence is on a serious rise. The confrontation seems to be getting out of hand.

Adrian, Kingston

Where I am we are far from Tivoli Gardens, but we are close to Spanish Town and I am afraid to visit my friends in case I get hit by a stray bullet.

The thing that truly troubles me is that normal working citizens have been advised not to go to work, while on the other hand students who are sitting their examinations are still required to leave the safety of their homes and risk the danger of been caught up in this chaos.

Carol, housewife:

Most of the time I stay in the house and keep an eye on the news.

I think the troops are right to storm Tivoli Gardens. Those people feel they are above the law.

They had ample time to change their ways but they refused. And now they are feeling the consequences. I do not feel sorry for them.

That area is essentially a squatter camp that has become legalised. Many people there have been sent back from the US and have become dons and "community leaders".

The politicians want their votes and so they pay the community leaders in the slums to gather votes for them.

That is the root cause of all this - our politicians. They are the people who can make a difference. But they turn a blind eye.

MORE COMMENTS FROM JAMAICA

I am extremely troubled with the unrest that remains in many parts of Kingston. I think this entire situation is unnecessary and appalling. Many have lost their lives and property and the situation has made many people, including me, live in fear. I pray for all Jamaicans at this time and ask that everyone keep us in their prayers.
Renee, Kingston

Dudus must go, he is nothing but a gangster and he has caused great harm to our beautiful island.
Gilbert Haertel, Montego Bay

It is sad that our country has to come this point but it is one that is critically necessary to rid the country of high presence of criminal elements and activities. I lay the blame squarely on our politicians who have been reluctant to break the link between "Dons", organised crime and the garrison communities.
Dilio, Jamaica

The USA knew that if they removed this man, our country would be in a state of chaos. Why uproot and cripple our nation by trying to remove a person that is clearly keeping the peace. Even though he has been involved in criminal matters in the past, was it a good trade off? Look at the current situation with 44 dead and counting and gunshots ringing out as I write you this letter!
Farenizzi, West Kingston

All of this trouble started more than 30 years ago. These politicians have created these monsters in order to gain votes from the Jamaican population (which by the way are mostly uneducated). These monsters can no longer be controlled.
John Doe, St Ann

I work in downtown Kingston and no transportation is going to downtown so I am stuck at home. Most businesses are closed too. It seems like Dudus has slipped out of Tivoli as he still hasn't been found.
Richard Ingram, Rockfort, East Kingston

All along the garrisons were developed by the same politicians to woo the votes. The politicians never had the will to dismantle the power the gangs held nor gave the necessary powers to the security forces or the police to prosecute them. Added to that the government continuously failed to find employment or create industries for the majority of the population and it also failed to create a climate for growth. Nor it could provide a meaningful education for the poor. The result was a monster that outgrew the government welfare programme. If this step becomes a watershed to clear all the ranks and file gang members, it would be good for Jamaica, the land we love.
Errol, Kingston

It's now Tuesday and what is now clear is that gunmen from other areas are using the incident in Tivoli to cause unrest and to commit crimes elsewhere. Downtown is still mostly shut down, but unrest has spread to other areas, and shooting has been reported in other parts of Kingston, not just Tivoli.
Richard, Kingston

I came back to Kingston on Sunday evening and drove at high speed through Mountain View Avenue (one of the hotspots) in an effort to get home quickly, this was about 10pm and fortunately we didn't see a soul. Two hours later there was a shooting incident in which two policemen were fatally injured, so we were extremely lucky. The sad thing is that all this mayhem is that it should not have been necessary and things ought not to have reached this far. How the government and the opposition will extricate themselves from the "garrison" syndrome, as I call it, is a national dilemma with far-reaching effects, specially if they get it wrong.
K, Kingston

I lived in the Duhaney Park area of Kingston. People are afraid and tired, we are tired of hearing the countless horror stories of bodies upon bodies on the floor, we are scared as we listen to the women from Tivoli crying for help, yet when the buses were sent for them to leave the community they refused to move. I am just praying that out of all this, a new society will emerge, one that is rid of gangs and violence. We are afraid to venture out on the streets. I am ashamed as the world looks at us in scorn. Our politicians are the ones to blame as they have created this sore which has now festered into a huge liability. I am hurting but I will not give up on my country - sweet, sweet Jamaica I pray for you.
K, Duhaney Park, Kingston

This is foolishness and could have been avoided if the government acted swiftly in dealing with the matter. I honestly don't think that Mr Coke is on the island, the prime minister waited too long. Crime has spread from Kingston to Spanish Town, I had to run to work this morning unaware of my surroundings, then the shots rang out. Listening to the news, much more than this is happening, soldiers have been killed and there are no reports of this, people have been killed and again no reports. The situation is worse than just a gun riot.
Marcel, Spanish Town

I live in Kingston on a hillside overlooking the affected areas. It has been tense all day. Heavy smoke, sporadic gunfire and bombings. It has been going on for at least two days. I think what we fear the most is the end, for I do not believe it is near, and when the smoke clears, "the sun won't be shining, nor the weather sweet"... my prayers for my country - Jamaica land we love.
Cameca, Kingston

I live in Spanish Town, and I am afraid to go to work in Kingston as I live between two areas which have sporadic gunfire and road blocks. Please tell Mr Golding to proceed to Tivoli to restore calm as it is his constituency and he needs to act now.
Jacqueline, Spanish Town, St. Catherine


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