KINGSTON, Jamaica - A senior Jamaican military officer says troops should be given more powers to help fight spiraling crime in the Caribbean country.

Major General Stewart Saunders is calling for legislation that would allow soldiers to search, detain and arrest suspected criminals.

Jamaican troops already accompany police on some operations to restore calm in the capital's toughest neighbourhoods. And Prime Minister Bruce Golding recently said soldiers would play a more active role in fighting crime in rural areas.

But Saunders' comments at a news conference Sunday go beyond what the government has proposed.

Jamaica has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, with more than 1,200 people killed so far this year.

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