Gunmen slaughter 12 in Guyana

February 19th, 2008 - 1:02 am ICT by admin  

By Paras Ramoutar
Port of Spain, Feb 18 (IANS) A gang of gunmen slaughtered 12 people, including three policemen, in Bartica in Guyana Monday, reminiscent of the massacre of 11 ethnic Indians at Lusignan just under a month ago. According to a police official in this Caribbean country where ethnic Indians form a majority, the gunmen attacked the Bartica Police Station and killed three officers, whilst residents in the river-island community shut doors and closed all openings in their homes to ward off potential attacks.

The gang came by boat on the Essequibo river.

Six of the victims have been identified. They were Edwin Gilkes of Banks DIH/Citizens Bank’s premises on First Avenue; Mervyn Ferreira, a guard of CBR Mining; and Marcus Gonsalves, a teller. The surnames of the three policemen were Osbourne, Zakir and Fredericks.

Police Commander Gavin Primo told the media that his information at the time was that “sometime around 9.40 p.m. on Sunday, gunmen stormed the Bartica Police Station located at First Avenue”.

Around 10.45 p.m., when he was contacted, the gunmen had moved to the streets and started shooting “indiscriminately”.

A resident said that he and several of his friends were on the road when the gunmen attacked, and they fled the scene immediately as “fear and panic triumphed in the community.”

“The gunmen moved from the police station to different streets. It was sheer gunshots.”

Another resident recalled that it was chaos. “Everybody locked down right now. I am not sleeping on my bed tonight.”

Approximately 1,000 residents were directly affected. It was reported that the gunmen took the only vehicle of the police station and used it in the rampage. Police reports confirm that they also took away several pieces of ammunition, which were apparently used in the massacre.

Chairman of the Regional District Knights told the media that approximately 20 people were in the gang, similar to the group that stormed the agricultural community of Lusignan just under a month ago, where 11 ethnic Indians were murdered in cold blood.

Knights said that it was not feasible to give an exact account of what erupted in Bartica at this point. “We can’t even pick up the pieces… this is almost incredible. No one would have thought about this,” he added.

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, acting as President of Guyana, said that the government has deployed additional security support in the area to ward off further aggression and to provide a sense of peace and comfort to the people of the area, and in Guyana overall.

Meanwhile, Rondell Rawlins, who belongs to the Buxton community that is dominated by Guyanese Blacks, remains a fugitive. It is alleged that he was the mastermind behind last month’s murders.

On Jan 26, a group of gunmen attacked five houses, opening the doors and shooting people indiscriminately, and killed 11 people, including five children in Lusignan, over 15 km from Guyana’s capital Georgetown.

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