Residents of the quiet, close knitted community of Good Hope, East Bank Essequibo, are now in a state of shock and mourning, after an elderly couple were burnt to death during a brazen attack by gunmen on Sunday night.
Pandemonium broke out when persons rushed out to save the husband and wife, as the two screamed for help from persons to rescue them from the deadly blaze.
However, despite the efforts of neighbours and residents, the trapped couple could not have been saved since their house which was engulfed in flames was heavily grilled. Reports are the duo locked themselves in a room in their bid to hide from the gunmen.
Dead are two prominent rice farmers in Region Three, Mohamed Munir, 75, and his wife Bibi Jamila Munir, 69.
Reports are that around 23:00h last night an unidentified number of armed men entered the home of the elderly couple and shortly after gunshots rang out.
According to a neighbour, he heard the gunshots ringing out, and he looked out of his house to see what was transpiring. That was when he noticed smoke and fire coming from the house. He also heard the elderly couple screaming for help.
“The house is heavily grilled and therefore it was hard to get to them since they were locked inside of a room. A lot of us rushed out but the whole place was on fire and we couldn’t access the building to save them. There was just too much of heat, we could not get close to the house or them,” he stated.
Meanwhile, another neighbour, Nazim Hamid, who lives opposite of the now dead couple’s house, stated that he immediately ran out of his home to offer assistance in rescuing the couple. This proved futile given the house being tightly locked up and the heated blaze, he said.
According to him, ranks of the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) took between 30mins to 45mins to arrive at the scene of the fire, and by the time they got to the burning house there was little that could have been done to save the house or those trapped inside.
Hamid described the elderly couple as helpful, religious and kind-hearted individuals and it is unclear at this point in time why they would have been targeted by the perpetrators.
It is believed that the gunmen used the street behind the couple’s house to gain entry to their yard, and eventually their house, since persons in the area stated that they did not see anyone enter from the front (the public road) entrance.
INews was told that they would have most likely used the same route to escape, and that neighbours who rushed to assist in saving the couple were more focused on getting them out of the blaze than paying attention to seeing if anyone strange was around or leaving the area.
Meanwhile, another neighbour told INews this morning that one night before the deadly fire and on the night itself, there was a tinted silver grey Toyota Allion car “lurking” in the area and it appeared to be “suspicious”.
He also said that the same car was spotted again not long before the fire took place.
Another source told this online publication that Jamila had telephoned a businessman in the area, Shiraz Alli, as the entire ordeal was taking place providing him with details as to what was transpiring and pleading with him for help.
According to other neighbours, the perpetrators could not have accessed the building without making loud noises which would have alerted them, unless they either had a key to the house or someone who knows the house provided them with the layout of the rooms.
“They could not get in unless they had a key to use or without someone assisting them in how they can get in and how the house is situated inside,” one man added.
Meanwhile, Imam of the Meten-Meer-Zorg East Masjid, EBE, Halim Khan, told INews that there is an increase of robberies in that area and it is evident that Indian businessmen, especially of the Islamic Faith, are being targeted.
He is calling on President David Granger and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan to intervene and visit the affected communities so as to have discussion with residents about security measures.
The Imam is also requesting that there be more police patrols on duty in the evenings especially late in the nights into the early morning hours.
“There is also a lot of tinted cars over this side and this is what bandits and so are using to carry out their crimes. I am asking that those in authority look into this issue and provide some relief to the community” he added.