Published on Friday, January 19, 2018

State of emergency declared in Jamaica

The Foreign Office has warned British tourists in parts of Jamaica to stay in their resorts and only use authorised transport after a state of emergency was declared in the area around Montego Bay.

The state of emergency covers the St James Parish, which includes the popular tourist area.

It follows the launch of a major military operation in the region, in response to a recent spate of shootings in the northwestern parish.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness promised tough new anti-crime measures.

The Foreign Office updated its advice on Thursday evening to say: "A state of emergency has been declared in St James Parish which includes Montego Bay.

"This will lead to more intensive law enforcement activities in response to recent violence including shooting incidents. You should follow local advice including restrictions in selected areas, and exercise particular care if travelling at night.

"Tourists should stay in their resorts and limit travel beyond their respective security perimeters.

"Travel to and from the airport or for excursions should be undertaken with organised tour operators, and transport should be arranged or provided by the resort hotels.

"Local media have reported that a major military operation is underway in parts of St James. This may result in road closures and travel delays. You should exercise caution if you're in the area."

The island's newspaper, the Jamaica Observer, said residents in the area welcomed the state of emergency measures, with one woman saying: "This will help to protect the tourists as many are afraid to come to Jamaica when they read the news."

Another said: "I think this is an excellent move on the Government's part. The escalating crime rate does not speak positively for the country."

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