Rocket grenade hits Reeaz Khan building
-- fragmentation grenade found in Charlestown

by Courtney Jones
Stabroek News
June 14, 1999


As tension continues to rise in the wake of a more than six-week-old public servants' strike, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher (RPG) was used to blast some city business premises in one of two incidents involving grenades in the city during the early hours of yesterday morning.

A person or persons unknown, perhaps standing on the pavement on the western side of the road, fired the RPG at the Reeaz Trading Enterprise Limited building owned by businessman Reeaz Khan on the eastern side of Camp Street between Croal Street and Brickdam a few minutes after midnight on Sunday morning.

In another incident, at about 6:30am businessman Balkaran Sukhu of 23, Saffon and Howes Street Charlestown woke up to find a hand grenade on a table just outside the back door of the rear verandah of his two-storey home.

Persons as far away as West Ruimveldt heard the loud noise caused by the explosion when the projectile was fired at Khan's store, and one Regent street resident said the exploding device rocked the foundations of his house.

The projectile slammed into the steel retractable door of the building and exploded, spreading shrapnel at an angle on the northern side of the ground floor of the building.

The hole where the projectile entered the door was clearly visible from the outside, as were numerous smaller holes caused by the exploding charge when the projectile hit the door.

Five Eurotech four-burner stoves stored near the door and a portable laundromat were severely damaged, while a television set stored some distance from the entrance of the store was completely destroyed.

Khan told Stabroek News that he had been informed of the explosion by the police at his home at about 45 minutes after midnight yesterday morning, but that when he got down to the store the steel door, because of the impact of the projectile which buckled the door inwards, could not be opened.

Shortly after this newspaper arrived at about 6:15 am, the police bomb disposal squad arrived complete with a metal detector. A fire engine had arrived on the scene about ten minutes before.

A pick-up had to be used to prise up the steel door a few feet to enable police investigators, the bomb squad, firemen and Khan to enter the store.

According to Khan the police picked up parts from the RPG in the gutter on the eastern side of the street in the area from where the weapon was apparently fired.

He said that a senior police officer on the scene said that it was the first time the force had encountered such a weapon at a crime scene.

Khan told reporters that the name of his brother, Glenn Lall, who is the publisher of the weekly Kaieteur News, had been scratched apparently with a nail on the discarded components of the RPG found in the gutter, as too was the name "Kaieteur News".

Lall himself told Stabroek News he could not understand why his name was on the weapon, and could only speculate that it was meant for him and that somehow somebody's wires got crossed.

A police release from the office of press officer Superintendent Ivelaw Whittaker said the "rocket launcher and the empty shell were recovered at the scene by the Police and were being examined. Police took these away and fragments from the explosive found on the road and areas surrounding the entrance of the store."

Informed sources told this newspaper that the RPG used is a 66 millimetre light anti-tank disposable weapon, probably of American manufacture.

The weapon is used by the military primarily to target lightly armoured personnel carriers, or tanks and vehicles.

According to the source, the projectile carries an explosive charge at its tip which explodes on impact, shedding shrapnel in a powerful cone-shaped direction after it has penetrated the target.

Khan had shown reporters a number of fridges in the northeastern section of the building which were hit by shrapnel. The thick glass of an office in the north eastern side of the building was also penetrated by shrapnel, and shattered.

The source said specific damage had been done to that section of the store because of the cone-shaped effect of the blast and the angle from which the rocket launcher had been fired.

Khan said that most of the equipment which also included vacuum cleaners, televisions, stereos, micro-wave ovens, a range of electronic equipment and other types of merchandise would have been damaged by the blast.

He said equipment on the first floor of the building was also damaged.

According to Khan, serious damage to the building itself was only prevented by the fact that it had 10 foot thick, reinforced concrete walls instead of being constructed with concrete blocks.

He could not give an estimate of his losses at this time noting however that most of the sensitive equipment in the store was useless.

In the other grenade incident businessman Sukhu said he opened the door to his rear verandah only to be confronted with the grenade lying on a table near the door.

Sukhu who is living with his son Anand and daughter-in-law Sandhya, said he immediately told them to leave the house and called the police.

When this newspaper arrived at about 8:45 am the grenade was lying on its side on the table resting on its lever.

There were already a number of police ranks on the scene and a fire tender and members of the police bomb squad arrived almost immediately afterwards in full protective gear.

It was at this stage that the commander of the unit was told by another policemen on the scene that the grenade had no pin.

A police release said the grenade was a Dutch-made fragmentation grenade and that it was being examined by ballistic experts.

After clearing the area the bomb squad examined the grenade and shortly afterwards took it away. Sukhu, who operates the Riverview Welding and Machine Shop, said

he was "not politically inclined, supported no political party and could not understand why a grenade would have been left at his place.

He said, however, that over the past months he had been plagued by a spate of thefts.

Meanwhile the police is offering a reward of $100,000 to anyone who has information leading to the arrest of person or persons who possess grenades and or rocket launchers.

The police say all information will be treated in the strictest confidence and that they can be contacted on telephone numbers 53650, 61326, 72128, 67065, 66978 and 46411.

Over the past two weeks there have been two incidents involving grenades; both occurred outside the Ministry of Finance in Main street.

In the case of the second incident which occurred last Thursday, police identified the grenade as a Dutch-made fragmentation explosive device.


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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples