-escape with millions in gold and diamonds
At least five persons were wounded when a 15-man gang of armed bandits raided the gold mining community of Piari in the Puruni River on Sunday night.
The gang made off with about $30 in cash and raw gold during a violent spree that lasted close to three hours.
Reports reaching this newspaper stated that the gang opened fire indiscriminately, while relieving the terrified miners, many of whom were at the Piari Landing where a number of shops are located.
The men had also robbed several mining camps along the Puruni River, hours before the Piari Landing attack.
A source at Bartica which is about four hours by boat from where the incident took place, told this newspaper that four persons were being treated at the Bartica Hospital for gunshot wounds.
The source said that one Brazilian woman has a badly swollen face, having been brutally beaten by the bandits.
Eyewitnesses spoke of persons running into the dark bushes under a hail of bullets to escape the masked men. One of them even spent hours hiding in a creek, the source said.
Recounting his ordeal, one victim who asked not to be named, said that he was hanging out on the ‘Landing’ when the men stormed the place.
“When de men come, I just hear gunshots and I didn’t tek it serious. I was about 100 feet away when I look across and see dem man hustling fuh tie up a man and put he fuh lie down,” the eyewitness said.
He told this newspaper that one of the bandits observed him watching them and immediately began shooting in his direction.
“All I could’a do was run and hustle fuh shelter,” he said, adding that he had to duck from the bullets that were whizzing past his head.
Realizing that the men were pursuing him, the eyewitness said that he jumped into a creek and hid himself under the surface for several seconds.
He came up on the other side of the creek among some weeds and used them to secure himself.
He was lucky that he did.
“When I look up, I see three ah dem with torch light, shining it in de creek. They fire about four more shot fuh see whey I would’a come up, but I stay down between de bushes,” the eyewitness recalled.
He said that eventually, the three men left and joined their accomplices in robbing everyone who was on the landing including the several shop owners there.
“They been firing shots all de time. Shooting people pon dey foot and shoulder. I stay in de water. They moving from shop to shop, whatever money dey get they tekkin. They meetin people and tek away they thing,” the eyewitness said.
He said that after about three hours the place was silent and people who were lying on the ground eventually got up and began walking around.
That is when he felt safe to come out from the security of the creek.
Other persons who had been shot and had sought refuge in the bushes also began emerging and there was a feeling of terror in the place.
“From wha people saying, is about 15 men who torment de place.”
According to the eyewitness, there was no boat or vehicle to transport the wounded to Bartica for medical attention and local remedies had to be applied.
“De people bruk up de internet place so we ain’t had no contact. A man had a satellite phone and he call last night (Sunday) but like people ain’t tek it serious. Is only this morning de police come in here,” the eyewitness told Kaieteur News.
“I had to run fuh me life. Dis thing gat me real shaky,” the eyewitness said.
The incident was similar to the 2005 bandit attack at Barlow Landing in the Mazaruni River.
On that occasion the men were dressed as policemen.
Kaieteur News understands that the police in the interior received word about Sunday night’s incident at around 01:00 hours yesterday and commenced their journey into the area five hours later.
According to a source, they have so far recovered a few spent .32 ammunition shells.
This newspaper was also informed that based on description given, one of the gang leaders is a notorious wanted man who has been granted bail by the high court.
The man is wanted for several armed robberies in the interior and for shooting a Brazilian miner.
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