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73 killed in Jamaica's hunt for alleged drug lord

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaican security forces kicked down doors and arrested dozens of people in a bullet-pocked slum Thursday and said the death toll from four days of fighting sparked by the search for a reputed drug lord has risen to 73.

The target of the manhunt, Christopher "Dudus" Coke, was nowhere to be found. He is sought by the United States on drug and arms trafficking charges, and the U.S. Justice Department calls him one of the world's most dangerous drug kingpins.

"We are still searching for Mr. Coke," police Deputy Chief Glenmore Hinds said. "Certainly we can't disclose where we are looking."

He said Coke's offices were found in the heart of the Tivoli Gardens slum but would not say what authorities found there.

Hinds said police and soldiers had found 73 "civilian" bodies, three of which might not have been killed in incidents related to the raid. He said three security officers were also killed in battles with gunmen loyal to Coke, who had nine months to prepare for an escape while Jamaica's prime minister wavered over U.S. demands for his extradition.

Authorities sought to reassure the public about the ability and willingness of authorities to control Kingston's downtown slums.

They also stressed that mostly men had died in the shootouts, but refused to provide specific breakdowns and the tally could not be independently confirmed.

The worst bloodshed was in Tivoli Gardens, Coke's ramshackle base in West Kingston, where roughly 35 international journalists were escorted Thursday by soldiers during an hour-long tour.

73 killed in Jamaica's hunt for alleged drug lord 05/27/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 10:14pm]
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