Gunmen kill 11 villagers in Guyana

Gunmen stormed into a coastal village in Guyana early today and shot dead 11 people, President Bharrat Jagdeo said. It was the worst mass killing in the small South American nation in more than 30 years.

Gunmen stormed into a coastal village in Guyana early today and shot dead 11 people, President Bharrat Jagdeo said. It was the worst mass killing in the small South American nation in more than 30 years.

Hours earlier, gunmen attacked police headquarters in Georgetown, the capital, firing indiscriminately and wounding two guards.

The killings occurred in Lusignan, a village seven miles east of the capital. Three children were among the dead, said police and military officials, who speculated that a criminal gang was behind the attacks.

Mr Jagdeo said: “(This) could not have been done by human beings, but rather by animals.”

The President said he was preparing 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 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. Mr 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.

Mr Rawlins is accused of being a crime boss since 2002, and the government blames him for the April 2006 killing of Agriculture Minister Satyadeo Sawh – a murder that authorities said was aimed at destabilising this former Dutch and British colony.

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