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Last updated: 22 February, 2008 - Published 17:25 GMT
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Guyana's crime challenge
Caricom had something to say about it, Trinidad and Tobago offered assistance, Caricom spoke of regional help.

The offers came in thick and fast as the region watched Guyana face yet another bout of violence.

This time it was the isolated village of Bartica as armed men attacked a local police station, leaving three policemen and seven civilians dead on Sunday night.

At the heart of the attack - guns and ammunition stored at the local police station.

The gang also took away cash found at the station and the keys for the station vehicle.

Bartica was the scene of the 17 February murders

Residents in Bartica have spoken of an atmosphere of fear.

They also criticised politicians for failing to get together to tackle the growing issue of crime.

Correspondent Denis Chabrol visited the usually quiet village of Bartica for BBC Caribbean.

Politicians react

Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo visited the area and promised meetings with the opposition and businessmen to try and find solutions.

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee told BBC Caribbean of some of the underlying issues which the Guyanese government would need to tackle in fighting crime.

The opposition People's National Congress Reform commented in a press release.

"The PNCR is convinced that this recent attack is a clear indication that the security situation in Guyana has rapidly deteriorated," said a mid-week statement.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the region's richest economy, an immediate offer came for more guns and for a helicopter to help track criminals.

The Trinidadians are offering specialised weapons but some analysts believe that Guyana's crime fight is about more than guns.


Mr Rohee admitted that there is also a need to allow people to inform security forces without putting themselves in danger.

"The problem we have is with the intelligence being received to go after these bandits and that is where the deficiency lies," Mr Rohee told BBC Caribbean.

Villagers in Bartica had criticised the politicians' ability to reach agreement on tackling crime together.

burning tyres in the village of Lusignan
Villagers in Lusignan barricaded themselves in after a January attack

Opposition parties also strongly asserted that what may have begun several years ago as a simple law and order problem has now evolved into something much more complex.

They said it would be more complicated than a Trinidadian helicopter and bigger guns could solve.

A BBC correspondent in the capital, Georgetown, said that commentators were saying that there was also likely to be some concern that the specialized weapons being acquired from Trinidad could also end up being stolen.

Cross-party talks

On Tuesday, President Jagdeo held a meeting of the country's political parties to come up with appropriate solutions.

The meeting agreed to review Guyana's national security plan and fast-track its implementation.

The opposition PNCR had been the only party refusing to endorse the communiqué coming out of that session.

Opposition Leader Robert Corbin said afterwards that his party supported much of the communiqué.

However, he's demanding that a national consultation involving key players be held to develop a broad consensus on the solution to crime.

The PNCR also stated that the rise in crime is being caused by other social and economic problems and has called for a study on what lies behind the recent massacres.

Earlier attacks

In late January, angry villagers blockaded Guyana's main east-west highway, in response to a rampage by gunmen in which 11 people were killed.

The gunmen burst into the village of Lusignan east of the capital Georgetown, firing on several houses.

Five children were among the dead.

It was said to be the country's worst mass killing for more than 30 years.

Officials suspect a criminal gang acting on the orders of the country's most wanted man, Rondell Rawlins, who police say accuses government forces of kidnapping his pregnant girlfriend.

The attack has raised fears of racial strife. Lusignan is mostly ethnic Indian, while Rondell Rawlins and his followers come from the ethnic African community.

The country's 760,000 population is almost evenly split between the two communities.

Do you live in Guyana or are you of Guyanese origin? What are your views on Guyana's latest developments? E-mail us at

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