Guyanese security forces and medical examiners Sunday were investigating the killing of eight licensed diamond miners in an apparent ambush at Lindo Creek, Upper Berbice River, in the Amazonian jungle of southwest Guyana.
Leonard George Arokium told reporters that his mining camp in the Berbice River was destroyed, and that he discovered the burnt remains of his workers, including his son Dax Arokium and the elder Arokium's brother Cedric Arokium.
The mother of miner Lancelot Lee told the Guyana Chronicle she last saw her son three weeks ago when he left home for a job at the mining camp.
Police said that George Arokium said he had not heard from his miners for some time and decided to visit the camp to check on them. He arrived there early Saturday morning and found the burnt bodies wrapped in a tarp.
The camp was located near Christmas Falls where security forces had a shootout three weeks ago with Guyana's most wanted fugitive, Rondell Rawlins, and five other gunmen. Guyanan President Bharrat Jagdeo has accused Rawlins and his gang of planning meticulous and deadly assaults on the mining town of Bartica and the coastal village of Lusignan earlier this year. Twelve people including three police officers were killed in Bartica in February. The president has also claimed the gang was involved in the 2006 assassination of Agricultural Minister Satyadeo Sawh.
Rawlins has claimed responsibility for the January 26 killings of six adults and five children in Lusignan and has threatened more deadly assaults, according to local radio and newspapers. In all, the Rawlins gang is believed to have killed 23 people, and stolen a cache of weapons and raw gold mined from Guyana's interior.
The massacres earlier this year have already raised concerns about the effectiveness of Guyana's military and police. Authorities have not yet released a possible motive for the killings.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds led a government team to the homes of the Arokium family to express their sympathy. The team included Interior Minister Clement Rohee and the government's acting chief of staff. The president is attending a conference on the Caribbean in New York City.
The main mineral interests in Guyana are gold, diamonds and bauxite.