Prime Minister Andrew Holness has formally declared a State of Public Emergency in the Parish of St. Catherine.

The move comes as tensions remain high in the old capital of Spanish Town following a flare-up of violence which left three people shot and killed and scores more injured.

Addressing a media briefing Friday morning Prime Minister Holness says the government cannot sit by and allow organised criminal gangs to terrorize law-abiding citizens.

Nora Gay Banton has that story.

The prime minister made it clear. Whether formally declared or not, a state of public emergency exists in the parish of St Catherine.

Empty streets and fearful citizens are the results of the violence that plagued the old capital this week.

An intra-gang conflict due to a rift in the Jamaica Labour Party-aligned One Order gang has been blamed by police forces for the flare-up.

Prime Minister Holness says the terror being experienced in the area is being driven by dons, guns and wayward young men.

The state of public emergency in the area will stand for just two weeks before Mr Holness will be required to seek the approval of at least one opposition Senator for its extension to fulfil the two-thirds majority requirement.

It’s the type of support that the government has not received in recent history, with the PNP believing the use of SOEs as a crime-fighting tool unconstitutional.

Prime Minister Holness says his administration will operate within the limits allowed by law and stands by the guidance offered by the courts.

And residents in sections of St. Catherine have so far been expressing relief at the imposition of the state of emergency.

A male resident says it has put his mind at ease.

Another male resident expressed satisfaction with the imposition of the enhanced security measure.

We’ll have more reactions from the residents in St Catherine in subsequent newscasts.