Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rising Violence in Guyana

I'm back from the blog grave to post this little tidbit. Over this last Friday (January 26, 2008) eleven people were shot dead in escalating violence near Buxton. This is the infamous town that we volunteers were forbidden to pass through on our own -- too bad there was no way into the capitol without doing so.

I wonder what's going on with Peace Corps Guyana today. Most likely, they're clamping down on travel and not permitting anyone to pass through the area under any circumstances short of life-or-death injuries. Days before I left, they modified the ban to allow us to pass through there only during the day, and only in a hired cab, which was a lot better than "only in a Peace Corps vehicle," but it's incidents like this that freak out Peace Corps and make them come up with sweeping rules.

There's the link. It probably won't be around forever, so here's a block quote of part of the article:

Guyana shootings claims 11 lives

By BERT WILKINSON, Associated Press Writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana - Gunmen stormed into a coastal village early Saturday and shot dead 11 people, the president said, in escalating violence blamed on a gang leader who has threatened widespread attacks.

The killings in Lusignan marked the deadliest massacre in this small South American nation in 30 years and came hours after gunmen attacked police headquarters in the capital, firing indiscriminately and wounding two guards.

Three children were among the dead in Lusignan, seven miles east of Georgetown, the capital.

"(This) could not have been done by human being but rather by animals," President Bharrat Jagdeo said as he prepared for meetings with security officials and the military. He said he would go to the village to meet with grieving relatives later in the day.

On Wednesday night, suspected gang members killed a Guyanese soldier during a gunbattle in Buxton, a village located two miles from Lusignan.

Police and government officials say they suspect a gang led by Rondell Rawlins, a former Guyanese soldier, is behind the violence. Rawlins has accused security forces of kidnapping his pregnant 18-year-old girlfriend days ago and police say he threatened to carry out attacks until she is found. Police said they are probing the woman's disappearance.

Rawlins is accused of being a crime boss since 2002, and blame him for the April 2006 slaying of Agriculture Minister Satyadeo Sawh — a murder that authorities said was aimed at destabilizing this former Dutch and British colony.