The Canadian government is urging any Canadians located in or around the popular tourist destination of Montego Bay to exercise caution and listen to local authorities amid a military lockdown in the area.
On Thursday, Jamaican authorities imposed a state of emergency in the northwestern parish of St. James, which includes Montego Bay, in response to a severe spike in violent crimes in the area.
“Military forces have been deployed to the area in an attempt to stabilize the situation,” Travel Canada said in a release.
“If you are staying at a resort in the affected area, restrict your movements beyond resort security perimeters. If you do travel outside these perimeters, use transportation arranged or provided by the resort. Use organized tour operators for excursions and travel to and from the airport. If you are in the affected area, be extremely vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local news.”
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a statement that criminal activity in the area had grown to the point that it was endangering public safety, necessitating a state of public emergency.
While the state of emergency is in place, security forces will have the power to carry out searches, reduce access to certain areas and detain people without a warrant.
All persons driving in and out of the parish will be subject to a vehicle and personal search, the statement added.
Last year, 335 murders were recorded in St. James, which is twice as many as any of the other 13 administrative parishes in the country.
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