Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson, has said that the joint military/police operation which started in Tivoli Gardens on Monday (May 24) was primarily aimed at executing a warrant issued by the Courts for the arrest of Michael Christopher Coke.
Speaking Tuesday (May 25) at a press briefing at Jamaica House, Senator Nelson said the operation was also intended to restore stability to the area, after three consecutive days of barricading by criminal elements and wanton attacks on the police force.
“Prior to the security forces entering Tivoli Gardens, the police came under sustained attack in various areas,” he said.
National Security Minister, Senator Dwight Nelson (centre) reviews notes with Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz (right) and Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer (right) during a press briefing at Jamaica House on Tuesday (May 25).
“Two policemen were shot and killed in Mountain View Avenue, a number of police stations were attacked and wherever policemen appeared, in carrying out their responsibilities to protect the people and the property of the people of Jamaica, they were unreasonably attacked,” the Minister added.
He told the briefing that it became impossible for the security forces to stand by and allow “this carnage to be inflicted on members of the security forces”, hence the decision to enter Tivoli Gardens and its environs on Monday morning.
National Security Minister, Senator Dwight Nelson (second left), addresses journalists at a press briefing on Tuesday (May 25) at Jamaica House. Also pictured from left are: Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, Colonel General Rocky Meade of the Jamaica Defence Force and Deputy Commission of Police with responsibility for Operations, Glenmore Hinds.
The Security Minister said the exits and the entrances to the community were effectively barricaded, so it became absolutely necessary for the security forces to use force to enter the area.
“The security forces were greeted with hostile gunfire, and so they were forced to defend themselves,” he informed.
Senator Nelson said that in the ensuing conflict, 26 civilians and one Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldier have been killed, while seven members of the JDF and five members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) were injured.
He said that the operation is continuing, and the armed forces are searching each building for criminals and weapons.
“I think a number of weapons have been found, a number of paraphernalia, including army fatigues, ballistic vests and binoculars, have also been found,” he said.
The Security Minister said the Government is still awaiting further reports from continuing analysis and examination.