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Noel Thompson, Star Writer


Sections of Montego Bay were tense up to late last evening when strong police/military teams came under heavy gunfire, trading shots with marauding gunmen.

The gun duel started along the busy thoroughfare of the Albion main road to the jagged banks of the inner-city Canterbury community. The hoodlums put up a fierce fight with the lawmen, which lasted for about 30 minutes on one occasion.

Last night, further reinforcement was sought from the Jamaica Defence Force and a helicopter was brought in to assist with the search.

Yesterday's incident resulted in the death of one man, the injuring of a young woman, who had just left a nearby church, and one of the alleged gunmen, who police said was admitted to hospital after being shot. Police also recovered two high-powered weapons, several spent shells and seized two cars.

cold blood

Police said at approximately 1:30 p.m., two groups of men travelling in two Toyota Corolla cars went on a hunt for a man. One group travelled along the Albion main road while the other travelled along King Street in an apparent bid to sandwich their victim if he tried escaping from either route.

The man, Balmore Fletcher, was spotted in the King Street area and was chased and shot dead in cold blood. The car which travelled along the Albion road, was intercepted by a police party. Men reportedly alighted from the vehicle with guns blazing. A shoot-out ensued between the gunmen and the security forces during which a 21-year-old woman was shot on the hand, shortly after leaving church.

Residents said at least one of the gunmen was shot on that occasion and was seeking refuge. Police confirmed that it was suspected that one or more of the gunmen had been shot. They seized an AK47 and a M1 machine gun.

At approximately 5:15 p.m. a joint police military team was pinned down as they attempted to enter the Canterbury community. "We were so scared. We had to lay flat on our bellies in our houses," a resident said. "I was so nervous," another said.

As The Star news team arrived at the scene, one man was seen being carted off to jail in handcuffs. At about 6:45 p.m. the security forces retreated to base, but left a smaller team strategically placed in the area to stave off any possible upheaval. They were back under the thick of darkness to flush out the gunmen.

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