Mon, Sep 03, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Seven killed in lead up to Jamaica elections

REUTERS , KINGSTON

Supporters of presidential candidate and leader of the opposition Jamaica Labor Party, Bruce Golding, attend a campaign rally in Kingston, on Saturday. Jamaica's political ombudsman has appealed for calm ahead of today's presidential elections.

PHOTO: AP

Gunmen in Jamaica killed seven people, including four women and a member of the governing party on Saturday, in what police said was political violence ahead of today's general election.

Four were killed in the George's Valley community in the south central parish of Manchester. The other three died when gunmen attacked people in the Kingston suburb of McGregor Gully, a stronghold of the ruling People's National Party (PNP).

One person was also wounded in that attack.

Two new polls showed support for the opposition Jamaica Labour Party surging ahead of today's vote, in which the PNP is seeking a record fifth consecutive victory.

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is seeking her first election victory since taking the reins of the PNP last year after longtime prime minister P. J. Patterson stepped down.

HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

Jamaica, a parliamentary democracy, has a long history of political violence, although it has tapered off in recent years.

In 1980 nearly 900 people died in the violence leading up to elections.

In July, police and soldiers were deployed to a volatile community near the capital to quell political shootings.

Police said the violence was politically motivated and the PNP said all seven dead were party supporters.

INTIMIDATION

"This is a clearly defined strategy aimed at intimidating voters on election day," said John Junor, a PNP member of parliament whose term is expiring.

Gunmen drove through a section of the community early on Saturday and fired at a group of PNP supporters who were standing by the road, killing four, Junor said.

Police identified one of those killed as Patrick Livingston, an executive member of the PNP group in the constituency.

In a separate incident, attackers threw two homemade bombs at the Constant Spring police station in an area that is often violent in northern Kingston on Saturday.

The bombs started a fire in an administrative block, prompting police to boost security at other stations.

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