British holidaymakers to Montego Bay in Jamaica have been ordered to stay in their hotels after a state of emergency was declared in the area.
The island’s government acted following an upsurge in violence including murders and shootings.
The latest outbreaks were reported locally to have occurred three hours apart near Sangster international airport on Tuesday leaving one man dead and three others seriously hurt.
The airport on the north coast of the island is close to many all inclusive resorts including those run by Sandals and Riu Hotels
The state of emergency was declared in the north-western parish of St James, which includes Montego Bay, following a record 335 murders last year, up 66 on 2016 levels and twice the number of any other parish in Jamaica.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued an alert, upgrading its travel advice to say that the state of emergency will lead to more intensive law enforcement activities in response to recent violence including shooting incidents.
“Local media have reported that a major military operation is underway in parts of St James. This may result in road closures and travel delays. You should exercise caution if you’re in the area,” the FCO said.
“You should follow local advice including restrictions in selected areas, and exercise particular care if travelling at night.
“Tourists should stay in their resorts and limit travel beyond their respective security perimeters.
“Travel to and from the airport or for excursions should be undertaken with organised tour operators, and transport should be arranged or provided by the resort hotels.”
Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness issued the state or emergency for St James yesterday, and said: “Crime and violence, in particular murders, have been escalating in the parish of St James. I have been advised by security forces that the level of criminal activity experience continued and threatened is of such a nature and so extensive in scale as to endanger public safety.”
The FCO added: “Public order incidents and demonstrations can occur across Jamaica, and may cause significant disruption to traffic and public transportation.
“You should avoid all demonstrations; they have the potential to turn violent and are often used by criminals as cover for robbery and theft.”
Around 206,000 British travellers visited Jamaica in 2016 with most visits being trouble-free, the FCO said.
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