May 27, 2001

Police occupy neighborhood amid drug violence

                 SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- Hundreds of Dominican
                 soldiers and police on Saturday occupied a Santo Domingo neighborhood
                 after a night of protests that erupted after police shot to death a suspect.

                 The police and soldiers raided homes and searched residents in Capotillo in
                 northern Santo Domingo, seizing 108 guns and arresting 120 people, mostly on
                 drug and arms charges, said police spokesman Nelson Rosario.

                 Dozens of officers were still patrolling the neighborhood on Friday night in a
                 show of force meant to stave of further unrest.

                 Violent protests erupted in the neighborhood Friday night after 17-year-old
                 Laury Amancio Medina was shot to death in a shootout with drug dealers, said
                 Col. Jacobo Mateo Moquete, spokesman for the National Drug Control
                 Directorate. Several bystanders were also injured by the gunfire.

                 It was unclear if any of the suspects were also injured.

                 Police officers were pursuing suspected cocaine dealers and were shot at by the
                 suspects, Moquete said. The police shot back and the teen-age suspect died in
                 the crossfire, he said.

                 Investigators believed the teen-age suspect may have been shot by bullets fired
                 by the alleged drug dealers, he said.

                 Capotillo is one of the poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the
                 capital and armed confrontations between police and suspects are not

                 On Friday night, demonstrators behind burning barricades threw rocks at police
                 and blocked car traffic through the area.

                 The protests also spread to surrounding neighborhoods.

                 In an unrelated protest, demonstrators angry over constant blackouts blocked
                 the highway to the Las Americas International Airport for several hours on
                 Friday night.

                 Protests have erupted and spread across the Caribbean country during the past
                 month over high gasoline prices, power outages, alleged police violence against
                 demonstrators and the promised public works projects.

                 In all, eight people have been killed in the protests and dozens have been injured.
                 Four have been killed in Capotillo.

                 Witnesses blame the police for most of the deaths.

                 President Hipolito Mejia has ordered a commission to investigate two deaths that
                 occurred last week in Capotillo.

                   Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.