Violence grips villagers in Guyana
Four people have been killed and several injured in Guyana's predominantly East Indian populated villages of Coldingen and Non-Pariel in an outbreak of violence in recent days.
The villages which are located on the east coast of Demerara, are near the suspected criminal-haven of Buxton and have been subjected to almost weekly attacks by heavily armed bandits.
Police have raided several homes in Buxton and have arrested many but so far, the real criminals have been eluding the lawmen.
BBC Caribbean Radio's reporter in Guyana Denis Chabrol said every evening many residents pack up and leave for the homes of relative and friends in other villages while other residents have abandoned their homes to seek refuge elsewhere.
One villager told BBC Caribbean Radio she had to beg some criminals who broke into her house to leave her daughter behind.
"They come by the window and then they say they go shoot if we don't open the door," she said. "A couple of minutes later, they kick down the door and come in the house, and they asked for whatever we have to give them.
"They wanted to carry away my four year old daughter because whatever we gave them, they were not satisfied with that and we had to beg them."
The latest gruesome attack took place on Saturday when five men opened fire on a house in Colingden and shot a nine-year-old girl. The bandits then attacked a neighbouring house from which they took $85.
The violence has prompted at least three visits in as many days by government and police officials to the villages.
Government has promised to provide street lighting and work with the police to release guns that were assigned several months ago to the community police.
Assistant Police Commissioner Krishna Lakeraj told BBC Caribbean Radio the police force is doing all it can to deal with the upsurge in crime.
"You may feel we are not patrolling but we do give responses to cases that come to our attention," he said. "But if the response is not immediate, it means the patrol is in some other area, in which case, we try to have an immediate diversion."