Jamaican police detain 10 Haitians requesting political asylum

KINGSTON, Jamaica_Police detained 10 Haitians, including eight police officers, who arrived Saturday by boat to Jamaica?s eastern shore requesting political asylum amid armed rebellion in northern Haiti, authorities said.

The 10 men _ eight police officers and two civilians _ landed their 15-foot (4.5-meter) skiff near a police station in coastal Manchioneal, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Haiti, police Corp. Jean McDonald said.

Police seized eight guns and some ammunition from the men, who immediately requested political asylum.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, has been rocked by a violent uprising aimed at ousting President Jean-Bertrande Aristide. At least 50 people have died in nine days of clashes.

It?s unclear where in Haiti the men were from. Immigration authorities were processing their arrival and reviewing their asylum request, McDonald said.

“Considering what is happening (in Haiti), I don?t think they?re going to say no,” she said.

Concerned about a possible mass exodus, U.S. authorities are monitoring the waters around Haiti for signs of people intending to flee, the State Department said this week. So far the U.S. Coast Guard has reported no significant increase in the numbers of Haitian migrants detained.

In 1992, tens of thousands of Haitians tried to escape a repressive military government then in power. Many were picked up and taken to the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.