Extensive crime, violence triggers travel warning for Montego Bay

Montego Bay has seen its murder rate rise over several years with a record 335 deaths in 2017 most tied to gang violence | Reuters

Montego Bay has seen its murder rate rise over several years with a record 335 deaths in 2017 most tied to gang violence | Reuters

He said: "We need your full co-operation in moving forward in restoring peace and order so that the good people can continue to contribute to the well-being of Jamaica".

If you're heading there, "exercise a high degree of caution due to the high level of violent crime", stated a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Crime and violence, in particular murders, have been escalating in the parish of St James.

Local authorities said numerous gangs were operating in the St James Parish, the area around Montego Bay, where the murder rate was nearly double other parishes past year.

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Jamaica is also one of several countries affected with Zika - a virus spread by mosquitos.

The travel company also said in a statement that it's waiving its usual fee to allow customers to change their reservation to an all-inclusive resort if they are now booked in a non-inclusive resort or hotel in St. James Parish.

The same day the state of emergency was announced, the UK Foreign Office issued a warning, saying it would "lead to more intensive law enforcement activities". "If you are in the affected area, be extremely vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local news", said the advisory.

Police said they are taking a zero tolerance approach to crime while a major military operation is underway in parts of St James.

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Holness said members of the security forces will have "extraordinary powers" and some rights are suspended.

Jamaica's defense chief, Maj. Gen.

Security minister Robert Montaque assured that security forces will only be targeting criminals, and appealed to people for information.

Outside of the negative impact of the travel advisories, there has been general support for the state of emergency that was declared by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, acting upon a proclamation from Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen.

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"We are ensuring that we enforce the rule of law, that we disrupt gang activities, and the particular focus is on those that are responsible for murders, lotto scamming, trafficking of arms and guns, and extortion".

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