Overseas families terrorised in East Coast attack

Guyana Chronicle
April 20, 2001

POLICE yesterday reported that members of two overseas-based Guyanese families were terrorised and robbed on the East Coast Demerara when their vehicles were caught up in the traffic congestion Wednesday afternoon caused by the funeral procession for Donna McKinnon.

Police said a 10-year-old girl was chopped on her left thigh by the robbers. The Chronicle understands this was the girl's first visit to this country.

Police said the visitors and other Guyanese were in a mini-bus and a car travelling to the Corentyne from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri when they were attacked and robbed at Haslington.

During the traffic congestion caused by the funeral procession, persons armed with cutlasses and knives took away a total of US$10,500 in currency, G$60,000, ten suitcases, six pieces of hand luggage, one American passport and two airline tickets.

A relative who was travelling with the families was also robbed of his licensed .32 Taurus revolver and 16 rounds live .32 ammunition, police said.

"During the robberies, four persons received injuries including the ten year-old daughter of one of the overseas-based families who was chopped on her left thigh while another man was chopped on his right index finger.

"Another relative was chopped under his neck while another man was chopped on his left wrist", police reported.

Six suitcases were taken from the mini-bus and four suitcases from the car.

The vehicles were also damaged. The front and rear windscreens of the mini-bus were smashed. The rear windscreen and left side glass of the car were also smashed, police said.

"One of the victims reported that a certain television 'Talk Show' host who was present at the scene of the robberies, was involved in encouraging the criminal attacks on them. This allegation is being investigated", police said.

Police also reported that during Wednesday night and the early hours of yesterday morning, Police and Army patrols extinguished seven fires along the road at Buxton, Golden Grove and Friendship.

The Police assisted by members of the Guyana Defence Force are maintaining patrols on the East Coast Demerara, a statement said.

Police also recalled that in Georgetown, as the procession reached Robb and King streets, sections of the crowd threw aside crowd control barriers, which were erected and manned by members of the force and "hurled abuses and threats to them causing them to stage a tactical retreat."

While passing Freedom House, headquarters of the PPP/C, persons in the crowd threw missiles at the building. The tyres of a vehicle which was parked in front of Freedom House were slashed, police reported.

The procession continued along Robb Street, and exited into Church Street via Orange Walk and Cummings Street and proceeded north. They proceeded east along Church Street and turned north into Irving Street.

While proceeding along Irving Street, a section of the crowd apparently broke away from the main party and proceeded to the President's residence in Forshaw Street where they began throwing bottles and stones at the guards at the residence, police reported.

Four persons who allegedly jumped off a white Canter van were seen scaling the fence of a yard east of the President's yard heading towards the fence.

Several shots were fired in the air by the guards to ward off the attackers, who eventually withdrew, the statement said.

There was no report of injuries, it added.

The procession continued along the East Coast Public Road, and as it reached Buxton, a large number of persons joined in and walked towards the burial site.

Along the route, in the vicinity of Haslington, several shots were fired in the air by one of the motorcyclists leading the procession, police said.

Meanwhile, the Alesie Group of Companies is contemplating closing the doors of its business here, following an alleged incident at Buxton at about 17:00 hrs on Wednesday in which 225 bags of `Shahrukh' rice were looted from a truck, the driver beaten and the vehicle damaged.

The idea was mulled during a meeting convened yesterday in Curacao by the group's Board of Directors, after a report was made about the incident, Company Secretary, Mr Pooran Ram said.

According to him, Wednesday's loss is the second the company has suffered as a result of post-elections disturbances and the company's business activity is being frustrated.

As a result of the incidents, Alesie said its drivers have been directed to protect themselves by all means necessary and all trucks transporting rice for the company will be followed by armed guards.

The company has also asked the police to investigate the incident.

According to the Alesie senior official, the driver of the truck reported that he was on his way from Corriverton to Georgetown, transporting the rice for sale on the local market, when the vehicle was caught in a traffic jam at Buxton.

He said he was directed by a group of men into a "side" street to avoid the congestion which was caused by the funeral procession.

The driver alleged that while there a group of men attacked him and stole the contents of the truck. The windscreen was also cracked in the process.

Ram said the driver escaped and summoned help from the company's Cowan Street office in Georgetown, and other employees arrived in time to see some persons attempting to steal the battery.

The fearful driver reportedly abandoned the trip and returned to Corriverton where he was to have reported the matter to the Police.

Contacted yesterday, the Police at Springlands acknowledged knowing of the incident, but said because it did not take place in that jurisdiction, the concerned parties were re-directed to the relevant station where they can submit a report and have the matter investigated.