Protests erupt over Guyana deaths

Villagers demand action over killings as fears of racial violence grow.

    Residents have demanded that the authorities crack
    down on a suspected criminal gang [AFP]

    Officials say Rawlins launched the attack, in the village of Lusignan, because he alleges that the authorities have abducted his pregnant girlfriend, a charge the authorities deny.

     

    The killings in Lusignan occurred several hours after an armed assault late on Friday night on the heavily fortified headquarters of Guyana's police force.

     

    Police have offered $150,000 for information leading to Rawlins's capture.

     

    Call for arms

     

    Villagers have also petitioned Bharrat Jagdeo, Guyana's president, to bulldoze several kilometres of woodlands near the villages affected so the heavily armed men would not have a place to hide.

     

    Jagdeo, who visited the affected villages on Monday, called on the US and other nations to provide more aid for Guyana's poorly equipped security forces.

     

    "Even if we put police and soldiers in every village, we'd only be able
    to cover 10 per cent of them - the other 90 per cent would be very vulnerable,'' he said.

     

    Residents in turn have demanded arms to form community patrols.


    "It is better to die trying to protect the village in the streets than to
    die hiding beneath your bed," Sharmila Ramcharran, a mother of five, said.
     
    The attack and resulting protests have raised concerns of violence between the country's ethnic African and Indian Guyanese.
     
    Tensions between the Indian majority and Afro-Guyanese boiled over into rioting after elections in 1992, 1997 and 2001.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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