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Riot in Jamaica Leaves One Man Dead

February 14, 2004

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _Hundreds of people rioted in Jamaica’s capital Friday, attacking a police station and setting cars ablaze after a policeman allegedly shot and wounded a high-school student.

At least one man in his 20s was killed during the riot, witnesses said. A soldier was shot and wounded, but his condition was not immediately known, police said.

Police and soldiers clad in riot gear used tear gas to repel rock-throwing residents in the west Kingston neighborhood of Denham Town.

The disturbance began around midday after a police officer shot a 14-year-old uniformed student in the head as he was eating lunch with classmates near his school, residents told The Associated Press. The boy was reportedly listed in serious condition.

``The policeman just pointed his gun over the fence and started shooting,″ said witness Sharon Maragh, 43. ``He said he didn’t like people from west Kingston.″

As word of the incident spread, about 500 residents and students descended upon the Denham Town Police Station, breaking windows with stones and setting a police car and military jeep on fire. Police said some protesters fired shots at the building, wounding one soldier.

During the chaos, a soldier shot and killed a young man as he crouched for cover just steps from the police station, residents said. Government officials and police have not commented on that shooting.

``As soon as we walked by they fired at him. He never knew what happened,″ 21-year-old Germaine Richards said in front of the bullet-pocked wall where the man was killed.

Police later regained control after former prime minister and opposition leader Edward Seaga arrived and pleaded with residents for calm. Seaga, the member of Parliament for the area, promised a swift investigation into the shooting, RJR radio news reported.

Jamaica has one of the highest per capita levels of police shootings in the world, according to Amnesty International. Police killed 113 people last year, down from 133 in 2002, authorities said.

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