10 Dead in 3 Days of Riots as Gunfire Rocks Jamaica

AP

Police exchanged gunfire with snipers Thursday, and two people were killed during a gun battle between rival political gangs, raising to 10 the number of deaths in three days of rioting over price increases, authorities said.

Police said the two men were killed in the west Kingston area Thursday afternoon. One apparently was a passer-by caught in a crossfire and the other was a gang member. One person also was wounded before security personnel halted the shootout.

One gang was allied with the Jamaica Labor Party and the other with the rival People's National Party, police said.

The police information office said that by late Thursday afternoon the city was "relatively calm" and that the disturbances that had erupted in Kingston and other parts of the island had been brought under control.

Banks and most businesses in Kingston opened for the first time since Tuesday, when protests began over 20% increases in the prices of gasoline and other fuels.

Prime Minister Edward Seaga told a news conference Thursday that the rioting has had little impact on Jamaica's booming winter tourism. He said there were only 60 cancellations out of 21,000 tourist arrivals booked for this week.

Seaga also reiterated that there was "no possibility" of calling new elections, rolling back the price increases or freezing prices, as opposition leader Michael Manley's leftist People's National Party has demanded.

Seaga won single-party control of Jamaica when Manley's party boycotted the 1983 elections. The government is not required to call new elections until December, 1988.

The government announced that the Jamaican dollar was devalued by four cents in Thursday's weekly bank auction. The exchange rate moved from 4.96 Jamaican dollars to 1 U.S. dollar to 5 to 1.

Police evacuated Education Minister Mavis Gilmour by helicopter Thursday morning when her auto was fired on and stoned in rural St. Andrew, about 20 miles from the capital. She was not injured.

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