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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

- police to complete ballistics test today
The Joint Services have encamped in this incomplete house behind Melanie Damishana. The house is a few metres away from where the army recovered one of its 30 missing AK-47 rifles on Saturday. (Ken Moore photo)

Police ballistics experts said from all indications the army's AK-47 rifle, which was found in a clump of bushes on Saturday at Enterprise is a brand new weapon;, they are still working to ascertain whether it was ever used.

Stabroek News understands that the ballistics test should be completed by today.

And as residents of Enterprise prepare to bury their dead today, chairman of the village said they are not mobilizing against domestic terrorism nor are they linked to any criminal group. They have complained too over the exact location where the weapon was recovered.

A major dispute has erupted over exactly where the weapon was found. As far as the residents of Enterprise are concerned it was not in their village, but in Melanie Damishana. The Joint Ser-vices, in a press release issued on Saturday said: "One of the missing AK-47 rifles was recovered in the Enterprise, ECD area during a Joint Services operation." The release further stated that the operation, which was conducted in Melanie, Enterprise, and Non Pareil, was launched to pursue leads that linked two named suspects to the robbery and fatal shooting incident at Non Pareil and Enterprise last Thursday.

The village chairman, who asked that his name not be mentioned, told Stabroek News that the railway embankment separates Enter-prise, which is on the southern side, from Melanie Damishana to the north.

The humble dwelling of Ramjeet Rampersaud of Enterprise who was gunned down last Thursday by bandits.

Stabroek News was however told that the weapon was actually found in a clump of bushes just on the periphery of Enterprise. Prior to the discovery of the weapon on Saturday, five males and one female were arrested while a generator and a bicycle, allegedly stolen during last Thursday night's robbery were recovered from an abandoned building west of Melanie and north of the railway embankment. The house is just a few metres away from where the weapon was found. Currently, joint services ranks have occupied the abandoned building and during a visit by this newspaper yesterday they were also seen in a few half-finished structures.

Ranks at the scene told this newspaper that since the weapon find they have been posted at the location. Further searches have been conducted in the general area where the rifle was found and also other places.

The joint services had also said that the two suspects they were hunting for on Saturday are known to be linked to a narcotics criminal enterprise that is led by a fugitive from US justice.

Fugitive businessman Roger Shaheed Khan issued a statement on Sunday saying that the joint services were trying to link him to domestic terrorism, which he dismissed.

According to the joint services, investigators are working to establish the accuracy of new information that a group has over the past two weeks embarked on recruitment of persons, most of whom have had law enforcement and military backgrounds. It is felt, the statement went on to say, that the recruitment drive is part of a larger plan to create instability through acts of criminal violence against innocent civilians.

Meanwhile, Enterprise village chairman said his community was very upset with the apparent linking of the village to criminal violence. He said from the reports he received the five men who carried out the robberies in Non Pareil last Thursday and the ones who killed Ramjeet Rampersaud, while he was sitting with his sister near a culvert in Enterprise are gunmen from Bare Root. The chairman mentioned the name of a notorious figure, who was only recently acquitted on a murder charge, as one of the men who killed Rampersaud. "They were other people on a bridge linking Bare Root and Enterprise on the night Ramjeet was killed and they positively identified the figure," the chairman said.

He said he himself knew the figure well and this information has been passed on to the police. The notorious figure hails from Bare Root, but had spent most of his time in recent years in Buxton.

The chairman said Enterprise is trying to keep the peace, although killings such as the one on Thursday has caused tempers to flare.

"We have a vigilante group and that is all, we cannot confront the criminal these days because they have high-powered weapons, but we aren't mobilizing or linking up with anyone," the chairman declared. Asked whether the village would accept assistance from Khan, who admitted that he helped fight crime in 2002-3, the chairman said no, adding that Khan allegedly has links to the underworld and the village was not into that. He said Enterprise had a few men who would go over to Bare Root to buy drugs and he would not rule out the possibility of some of them linking up with criminals there. "We have petty thieves and drugs men in this village too, but I don't know of any who is part of a criminal enterprise," the chairman said.

He told this newspaper that he was certain that the motive for killing Rampersaud was not robbery, but rather to create fear among the Indian communities in the area. "But we must find other means to counter this, rather than picking up guns and going after persons of another ethnic group we have to find solutions and live in peace and love."

However, he added, villagers would not always sit down and be overrun by criminals; at some point residents would stand up and defend themselves. Enterprise, Non Pareil, Annandale and other surrounding communities have become targets for marauding gangs operating out of Buxton and Bare Root over recent years.

Despite promises of protection government has failed to deliver and residents continue to live in fear. The chairman said the government was doing a good job in office, but in the area of security it was failing.

Rampersaud, who was shot in his chest would be cremated today.

Stabroek News
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