KINGSTON (AP) — Gunmen brazenly shot up a police station and later swarmed inside a public hospital to rob doctors and nurses in a gritty city just outside the Caribbean island's capital, authorities said Friday.
National Security Minister Dwight Nelson said intelligence indicated the gun attack late March 10 in the southern city of Spanish Town was in retaliation for the deaths of three alleged members of the Klansman gang by security forces the previous weekend.
No police officers were hurt during the attack, officials said.
Nelson said authorities would make every attempt to crush the gunmen who showered bullets on the Spanish Town police station during an hour-long power blackout and urged officers not to back down in the face of threats and attacks.
“We will not be deterred by their cowardly actions,” Nelson said.
On Friday, gunmen invaded Spanish Town Hospital and robbed staff of money, phones and jewelry. There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
Health Minister Rudyard Spencer condemned the robbery invasion and said similar incidents had recently occurred at the public hospital in Spanish Town, a densely populated area of rundown buildings and shantytowns that was once Jamaica's capital.
“There is a pattern emerging that we do not like and we wish those criminal-minded persons would allow suffering people to access medical attention and our staff to do their work without fear of incidents such as this,” Spencer said.
Police in St. Catherine parish were searching for several young men allegedly linked to the Klansman gang, which has been in along-running feud with the One Order gang over control of sections of Spanish Town. There have been no arrests.
The latest flare-up of violence came amid a government anti-gang crackdown that has been the toughest in the island's history.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding has said last year's bloody raids on the West Kingston stronghold of reputed drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke was a turning point in the government's approach to criminal networks. Many of them have benefited from ties to the two major political parties for decades.
While West Kingston has long contained some of Jamaica's most notorious slums, violent gangs are also deeply entrenched in Spanish Town and the northwestern coastal parish of St. James which includes the resort city of Montego Bay. Fighting among gangs for control of drug trafficking and extortion rackets has long been blamed for most of the country's homicides.