GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) Gunmen stormed into a coastal village early Saturday and shot dead 11 people, the president said, in escalating violence blamed on a gang leader who has threatened widespread attacks.
The killings in Lusignan came hours after gunmen attacked police headquarters in the capital, firing indiscriminately and wounding two guards. Five children were among the dead.
The killings prompted outrage in the South American country, which has struggled with violent crime in recent years and is best known as the site of the Jonestown mass-suicide and killings led by the American cult leader Jim Jones.
"(This) could not have been done by human beings but rather by animals," President Bharrat Jagdeo said as he prepared for meetings with security officials and the military. He said he would go to the village to meet with grieving relatives later in the day.
An estimated 300 people in the neighboring town of Mon Repos torched tires, old refrigerators and oil drums and blocked the two main roads leading to Lusignan.
"We want justice!" they cried. "Government can't protect us! We want more police!"
The group, made up mostly of men, vowed to form vigilante groups and avenge the killings in the town about seven miles outside the capital, Georgetown.
The area is usually a bustling marketplace on Saturdays, but everything remained closed and irate villagers yelled at arriving soldiers.
"It is unthinkable that gunmen will break into your house with your family, put everyone to sit in a chair and kill them," 50-year-old resident Karamchand Sukhu said.
Police have not said whether the victims were relatives or if they were found sitting in chairs.
On Wednesday night, suspected gang members killed a Guyanese soldier during a gunbattle in Buxton, a village located two miles from Lusignan.
Police and government officials say they suspect a gang led by Rondell Rawlins is behind the violence. Rawlins has accused security forces of kidnapping his pregnant 18-year-old girlfriend days ago and police say he threatened to carry out attacks until she is found. Police said they are probing the woman's disappearance.
Rawlins is accused of being a crime boss since 2002, and blame him for the April 2006 slaying of Agriculture Minister Satyadeo Sawh a murder that authorities said was aimed at destabilizing this former Dutch and British colony.
In 1978, Jones exhorted his followers to drink cyanide-laced grape punch in Jonestown a Guyana settlement named for him. Babies were killed by squirting it into their mouths with syringes. Most adults were poisoned, some forcibly. Some were shot by cult security guards. Hours later, 912 of Jones' followers were dead. So was Jones, found with bullet wound in his head whether it was suicide or murder is unknown.