Jamaica Death Toll at 44; Drug Kingpin Still at Large
Police still battling holdout Dudus supporters as hunt continues
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 26, 2010 9:49 AM CDT
This frame grab from video provided by APTN shows soldiers on guard in Kingston, Jamaica, Monday, May 24, 2010.    (AP Photo/APTN)
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(Newser) – Jamaican security forces claim a tenuous hold today over the slum stronghold of a gang leader sought by the US, but only after battles that killed at least 44 civilians. Officers and soldiers were still fighting holdout defenders of Christopher Coke, known as "Dudus," in pockets of the Tivoli Gardens area. He was still at large after nearly three days of street battles.

Police said that at least four soldiers and police officers also have died in fighting in West Kingston and elsewhere around the capital. The gunmen fighting for Coke say he provides services and protection to the poor West Kingston community—all funded by a criminal empire that seemed untouchable until the US demanded his extradition, and the Jamaican prime minister, after resisting for 9 months, agreed.