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Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness addressing nationals in Jamaica, Queens, NY on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (Facebook image)

By NAN Staff Contributor

News Americas, KINGSTON, Jamaica, Fri. Sept. 23, 2016: A popular Caribbean tourist destination has seen close to 900 murders so far this year.

Police data published by the Jamaica Gleaner show that Jamaica has seen 894 murders from January 1 to September 21, 2016 across the 19 police divisions across the country. That means Jamaica is averaging almost 100 murders each month, or just over three per day, the paper reported this week.

The news comes as Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness met with nationals in the New York Diaspora at a public meeting in Jamaica, Queens last night that he wants to take a far more enlightened perspective towards the development of Jamaica beyond crime and poverty and as he told Bloomberg Radio Thursday that Jamaica is open for business and has only exploited 40 percent of its tourism potential to date.

Of the total murders so far in Jamaica, 184 were recorded in the parish of St James, putting the area on the brink of recording more than 200 murders in a calendar year for a second straight year.

With three months to go, the murder rate is already more than the 882 killings recorded for the same period last year.

The Canadian government urges nationals to exercise a high degree of caution when traveling to Jamaica and it warns of violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, particularly in Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay. The travel advice also warns against visiting Tivoli Gardens, Whitfield Town, Payne Land, West Kingston, Grant’s Pen, August Town, Denham Town, Hannah Town, Arnett Gardens, Olympic Gardens, Harbour View, Central Village, Spanish Town, Mountain View, Trench Town, Cassava Piece, Canterbury, Norwood and Rose Heights. You should also avoid some parts of Montego Bay, namely St. Clavers Avenue and Hart Street, Flankers, Canterbury, Norwood, Rose Heights and Mount Salem.

The UK government for its part also warns its nationals of high crime levels particularly in Kingston, including West Kingston as well as Grant’s Pen, August Town, Harbour View, Spanish Town and certain parts of Montego Bay while the US urges its Embassy personnel to restrict travel to Downtown Kingston, including Mountain View, Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens, and Arnett Gardens;  Standpipe, Grants Pen, and Cassava Piece as well as Spanish Town and -Flankers, Canterbury, Norwood, Rose Heights, Clavers Street, and Hart Street in Montego Bay.

“Violent crime is a serious problem throughout Jamaica, particularly in Kingston and Montego Bay,” the US State Department says on its website. “Violence and shootings occur regularly in certain areas of Kingston and Montego Bay. Jamaica’s police force is understaffed and has limited resources.”

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