The Belize government has announced a state of emergency (SOE) in the south side of Belize City as it seeks to deal with the escalation of gun violence in the area that left at least six people dead over the last weekend.

National Security Minister John Saldivar said he is prepared to go to Parliament to seek an extension of the State of Emergency as the law enforcement agencies seek to put a lid on gang violence in the area.

“Under the emergency powers granted under the constitution, if we should wish to have an extension of this 30 -day period we will have to take the matter to the House of Representative and I as the minister do intend to do so if the circumstances do so warrant,” he said.

Governor General Sir Colville Norbert Young signed the statutory instrument allowing for the State of Emergency to go into effect in two of five previously identified hotspots on south side Belize City.

The chief executive officer in the Ministry of National Security, Colonel George Lovell, said in March this year, it was thought necessary to bring the members of the Belize Defence Force into the streets to assist the police in the maintenance of law and order.

Acting Police Commissioner, Chester Williams, said that for the past couple of months, “we have been in constant dialogue with the different gang groups across south side Belize City”.

He said those dialogues have yield some very positive results in some areas, while some areas seemingly want to believe that they can hold the rest of the city hostage.

So far, more than 100 people have been detained under the SOE.

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