One killed as Brazilian gang launches 8 – hour attack on mining camp

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By Leroy Smith

Antonio DaSilva, a man who has Guyanese and Brazilian citizenship, was murdered this morning at a mining camp at Akaiwanna, Cuyuni, Region 7. DaSilva, 36, has been operating in the area for the past three years.

The News Room was told that at around 20:00hrs last evening, six to eight heavily armed men invaded the camp and tied up DaSilva and several other employees at the camp. News Room understands that the camp has approximately 200 employees who are spread across the mining block. The block is being rented by DaSilva from a Guyanese businessman.

While the men were tied up, the bandits, most of whom were identified as Brazilians from their dialect, proceeded to “wash down” the boxes that had the gold. According to persons in the mining district, one of the bandits was identified as a former employee of DaSilva.

A close associate of the Guyanese businessman, who rented the mining block to DaSilva, told the News Room that the robbery lasted for eight hours. He said it started at 20:00 hrs on Tuesday and ended at 03:00 hrs on Wednesday.

Police said the gunmen bound DaSilva along with several of his workers and ransacked the camp; they then escorted DaSilva to his worksite where they removed an undisclosed amount of raw gold. It is alleged that the bandits took DaSilva about 500 meters from the site and shot him several times and fled the area.

The News Room was also informed that one of the men, who managed to escape from the camp when the invasion began, went to another camp where he informed others of the issue. It was there that he was provided with communication equipment which allowed him to make contact with the Guyanese businessman in Georgetown.

The bandits knocked out the communications equipment at DaSilva’s camp before they launched their attack. As soon as contact was made with Georgetown, the police were immediately contacted and ready to move but were unable to do so due to transportation challenges.

According to what was communicated to the News Room, the intention of the police was to be transported to Aurora where they would have gone by plane, then move to the mining camp by vehicle. However, at the time that they received the call, there was no night pilot available to take them to Aurora.

Up to press time, the communication equipment at the mining camp was not restored, however News Room was told that the police went into the area where an investigation commenced. Some twelve policemen travelled to the location.

The associate, who spoke with the News Room, said it is unfortunate that the police were fed information but could not have moved as a result of the unavailability of transportation.

He stressed that miners are usually left to the mercy of the bandits and intruders due to their remoteness and in some cases poor communication.

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