owen_ellington.jpgKINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Authorities in Jamaica are investigating why police shot and killed three people, including a firefighter.

Police said in a statement Saturday that the shootings occurred in the southwest parish of St. Elizabeth, one of the island's largest districts.

They said the men, ages 24, 28 and 38, were killed in a confrontation Friday with police.

Officers said they seized two firearms. It is unclear how the confrontation occurred.

The case was referred to an independent government panel charged with investigating fatal police shootings

Human rights activists have repeatedly criticized the number of fatal shootings by Jamaica's police officers and soldiers.

In 2012, the island's security forces killed 219 people, nine more than in 2011.

*Pictured above is Jamaica's Police Commissioner Owen Ellington.