Canadians vacationing in Jamaica's Montego Bay warned to stay within resorts

Jamaica state of emergency

British and Canadian authorities are warning their nationals visiting Jamaica's Montego Bay to limit their movements following a state of emergency over violence and shootings in the tourist hotspot.

The region on Jamaica's north coast, which is visited by about 200,000 Britons a year, has experienced a surge in gang-related violence and killings.

The Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness declared a public state of emergency on Thursday in the parish of St. James, which includes Montego Bay.

In the most recent incident, a auto carrying three men and a child was sprayed with bullets in a drive-by shooting just yards from Sangster International Airport on Tuesday.

The FCO has said holidaymakers should limit their movements outside their resorts in the area, especially if travelling at night.

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

The UK advisory said for excursions outside hotels, these should be undertaken with organised tour operators, and transportation should be arranged or provided by the hotels. "If you are in the affected area, be extremely vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local news", said the advisory.

"This may result in road closures and travel delays".

Police Commissioner George Quallo said 335 murders were recorded in St. James past year, nearly twice as many as in any other parish.

Maj Gen Rocky Meade, chief of defence staff of the Jamaican Defence Force, told the JIS: "All citizens of Jamaica, including the violence producers, can feel safe in the hands of the military, as long as you are not threatening the troops".

The Canadian government issued a similar warning, telling citizens to use a "high degree of caution" given the "high level of crime and the state of emergency in St James Parish".

And hours later another man was shot four times at a roundabout nearer to the airport prompting the PM to act.

Holness urged the public to cooperate with security forces, saying the operations may create some level of inconvenience.

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