Thursday, April 29, 2004

Ja: Climate ripe for terrorism

SCORES OF people, mainly women and children, were beaten and chased out of their homes in Arnett Gardens, south St. Andrew, yesterday morning by marauding gunmen who accused them of being spies or informers for opposing gang members.

Sections of the community erupted yesterday, as rival gangs got involved in a fierce gunbattle.

At least seven schools that were in close proximity, including Charlie Smith High, were forced to close their doors. Fearful residents stayed away from their jobs and remained indoors.

Several homes were broken into and electrical appliances and other items stolen. The regular route taxis suspended their services as the affected area was transformed into a ghost town. The only signs of life were people peeping over fences and pockets of persons gathered at various points discussing the problem.

Sonia Edwards, a 40-year-old mother of nine, said she was attacked and beaten by gunmen who gave her less than 24 hours to leave her home which is located in the 'Pegasus' area, near Collie Smith Drive.

A 78-year-old woman said her family was given until the end of yesterday to leave their home on Crooks Street, Jones Town.

"A dem same man dem who kill me son pon Good Friday, a sey we fe leave the area," the elderly woman told The Gleaner yesterday.

When a Gleaner news team visited 'Brooklyn' an emotional 22-year-old woman told a story of how she was hit with a piece of iron pipe across her back and shoulder. A number of other persons were beaten and told to leave the area.

Acting Commissioner of Police Lucius Thomas said at least two women with similar complaints turned up at his office yesterday morning. He proposed to put measures in place to prevent reprisals.
Where is law and order in Jamaica? What are the police doing to prevent the attacks from occurring in the first place. The issue is not just police preventing "reprisals"; instead, they must create an environment of rule of law in which the average Jamaican can live without fear of thugs. Islamic terrorists are known for coming in, creating the illusion of security, and so winning converts to their cause. It happened in Rwanda; it is most likely occuring amongst Indians in the Muslim Triangle; and, it can happen in Jamaica. That's when the real trouble will start.

Meantime, the Patterson government is moving oh so slowly.
PRIME MINISTER P.J. Patterson yesterday said he expects the Government's proposed National (Independent) Investigative Authority to come on stream by the end of the year.

During a post-Budget briefing held at Jamaica House, Mr. Patterson revealed additional details on the Government's intention to establish the new investigative body to tackle complex crimes and probe alleged police indiscretions.

He said the new body will draw on the human resources of several agencies that now probe felonies encompassing corruption, extortion, extradition, and financial crimes.

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