File picture of Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness delivering a speech during the 2022 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, USA, 10 June 2022. EFE/EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT

Emergency declared in Jamaican district after children killed in gang violence

San Juan, Nov 8 (EFE).- Jamaican authorities on Wednesday declared a state of public emergency in the western district of St. James, the recent scene of a gang war where several children have been killed by gunfire in the past week.

Jamaica has the world’s highest intentional homicide rate, with 52 murders per 100,000 people, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said after the weekly cabinet meeting that security forces believe the situation in St. James warrants a State of Public emergency, which will initially last for two weeks.

“We will not wilt, we will not resile in the face of terror,” Holness said.

St. James is one of fourteen districts that make up Jamaica’s territorial organization and includes the troubled Salt Spring area.

On Monday, two elementary school children were shot and killed in Salt Spring along with an unidentified man as they rode in a taxi that was attacked by gunmen.

And on Friday, also in Salt Spring, gunmen shot and killed a six-year-old girl and her grandmother.

Holness said Wednesday that he was not trying to “stir up the nation into vengeance” but that Jamaica must “stop sending mixed signals to criminals” because “they are not going to return any grace you give them; they are not reasonable people. They are terrorists and they must be treated as such.”

According to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, 1,159 murders have been recorded up to October 28 this year, a high number, although somewhat lower than the same period in 2022, when 1,301 were recorded. EFE