US warns of possible civil unrest in Jamaica

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The Independent Online

The US State Department warned Friday of the threat of civil unrest in Jamaica amid reports that criminal gangs were massing in Kingston and the military was mobilizing.

In a travel warning, the State Department urged US citizens to weigh the risks of traveling to and within the Kingston metropolitan area.

"The possibility exists for violence and/or civil unrest in the greater Kingston metropolitan area," the State Department said.

"There are unconfirmed reports of criminal gang members amassing in the Kingston area, as well as mobilization of Jamaican defense forces.

"If the situation ignites, there is a possibility of severe disruptions of movement within Kingston, including blocking of access roads to the Norman Manley International Airport," it said.

The unrest could possibly "spread beyond the general Kingston area," the alert said, adding that the US Embassy in Kingston was taking "extra security precautions."

"US citizens should consider the risks associated with travel to and within the greater Kingston metropolitan area," the State Department said.

Kingston's leading newspaper The Gleaner reported on massive demonstrations Thursday in the Jamaican capital in support of a local gang leader - Christopher "Dudus" Coke - facing extradition hearings on US drug trafficking charges.