The state of emergency (SOE) currently in place in the Southside area of Belize City (also known as Haulover Creek) has been extended until October 6 due to persistent levels of violence. The SOE had been set to expire on August 6; however, Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, has stated that persistent crime is hampering police efforts to enforce coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures, as resources and manpower are stretched.
Further extensions are possible in the coming days and weeks if the security situation does not improve. Heightened security measures, including checkpoints, and an increase in police operations are anticipated in areas under the SOE in the near term.
Incidents of serious gang-related violence are known to occur in Belize City, most commonly in Southside.
On July 20, Chester Williams announced the deployment of a special police unit to San Ignacio (Cayo district), following a fatal shooting by unknown gunmen outside a nightclub on July 18. The shooting resulted in two fatalities and three injuries, including a police officer. Authorities attributed the violence to a dispute between two rival gangs who are known to operate in Belize City.
Those in Belize are advised to remain vigilant, follow all instructions issued by local authorities, and exercise basic security precautions (e.g. keep signs of wealth concealed, drive with doors locked and windows rolled up, etc.).
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