The media was today (May 28) presented with graphic evidence of the preparations criminals in Tivoli Gardens had made to wage an all-out assault on the security forces should they enter Tivoli Gardens.
At a press briefing at Up-Park Camp in St. Andrew, the security forces showed videos, as well as photos of improvised explosive devices, guns, strategic barricades and sniper posts set up by the criminals.
Improvised explosive device (IED) found by the security forces in Tivoli Gardens.
Major Ricardo Blackwood, who is in charge of media relations at the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) said the community was so well fortified that it took the joint military and police team almost 12 hours just to enter the area. He noted that the team had to resort to the use of explosives to breach walls in order to get into Tivoli Gardens.
“It took our troops three hours to get from Beckford Street to the MPM (Metropolitan Parks and Markets) building. This is a mere 200 metres in distance, an average three-minute walk for the average Jamaican. This speaks to the kind of armed resistance that was faced. The gunfire was consistent and sustained and it was evident that the gunmen used the vantage of high-rise buildings to fire on the security forces; these high-rise buildings were also used as sniper positions,” he illustrated.
Major Blackwood said it was also clear that the gunmen were highly trained, “well organised and knew what they were doing”. In fact, the Major disclosed that the security forces were of the view that in some instances, the gunmen received help from foreign sources.
There were photos of several undetonated explosives and Major Blackwood said that many of these were rigged to be detonated remotely. In some instances, he said, the detonating wires led into homes and on top of buildings.
A soldier disarms improvised explosive device (IED) rigged to a gas cylinder, which was found in Tivoli Gardens.
He also conceded that although the security forces had recovered 22 firearms and thousands of assorted rounds of ammunition, finding them was not easy. Weapons were wrapped in black plastic bags and ingeniously concealed among garbage and in manholes.
“Over 7,000 assorted rounds were found, we have been able to distinguish that there are several types. what this suggests to us clearly is that these rounds were amassed for a range of weapons that were going to be used,” he said. However, the security forces expressed confidence that many more weapons were in the area to be found and the search will continue.
The JDF officer also informed that the police discovered a post where the criminals used closed circuit television (CCTV) to carry out their own surveillance of the area. Police uniforms and military kits were also recovered from the community.
Underground tunnels, through which criminals might have escaped, were also discovered in the community, some of which lead all the way to the Kingston Harbour, and the security forces say they are currently carrying out investigations.
The operation in Tivoli Gardens began on Monday (May 24) and is being carried out in three phases. The first two phases involved moving into the community and searching and establishing control. The final stage is currently underway with the security forces attempting to restore normalcy in the community.