Jamaica cops release most of 980 detained in raid

The raids to catch a reputed underworld boss had also left scores dead.

Kingston: All but a handful of the roughly 980 Jamaicans detained during raids by security forces in gang-heavy Kingston slums have been released, police said on Saturday.

Detainees had been held at the Kingston`s National Arena, where dozens of concerned relatives had congregated outside a security gate in recent days, holding up pictures of their sons. On Saturday, the stadium was empty and police said 10 suspects were still being held elsewhere.

Hundreds of heavily armed troops, meanwhile, occupied the bullet-pocked Tivoli Gardens complex on Saturday following a bloody, four-day assault of the slum stronghold of reputed underworld boss Christopher "Dudus" Coke, who is wanted in the United States on drug and gun-trafficking charges.

Coke was nowhere to be found, but Jamaica`s top cop insisted that security forces will capture him and that their "best intelligence" indicates he is hiding somewhere on this tropical island.

The raids to catch Coke left scores dead and police said on Saturday that they had detained 980 people during the civil unrest.

The released detainees appeared to be avoiding returning to the Tivoli Gardens housing project, where soldiers manned checkpoints and searched people entering the complex, including an elderly woman carting home vegetables and fruit from a nearby market.

Nearly all residents view the security forces as an occupying force and accuse them of firing indiscriminately. The police and Army counter their targets are specific but would investigate any wrongdoing by individuals. The government has vowed independent investigations of all killings.

So far, 70 civilians and three security officers are listed by the government as killed during the fighting.

On Saturday, Deputy Police Commissioner Charles Scarlett said about 10 criminal suspects were still being detained at a lockup but have not yet been charged. The rest had been let go.

He said the detainees were rounded up "to ensure we were not hindered in what we were doing" during the West Kingston raid.

Bureau Report

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