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At least 27 people, almost all civilians, have died in gun battles in Jamaica, police have said, as the hunt continues for a suspected drug lord, the BBC reports. A state of emergency has been in place in parts of Kingston since Friday, when several police stations were attacked. The fighting has intermittently blocked the road to Kingston's airport and forced some flights to be cancelled. The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert, warning citizens against travel to Kingston and the surrounding areas. Britain "strongly advised" its nationals to avoid all "non-essential travel" to the Kingston area, and Australia urged its visitors to show a "high degree of caution".
The drug trade is deeply entrenched in Jamaica, an island nation of 2.8 million people with one of the highest murder rates in the world. Some 1,660 homicides were recorded there in 2009, the AP news agency reports.