CMC – Chairman of the Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS), Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell of Grenada, says RSS personnel should be arriving in St. Lucia this week, as police say nine people are assisting their investigations into the bloody weekend in the southern town of Vieux Fort last weekend.
“The Caribbean region is proudly a zone of peace, a designation that we cannot take for granted, especially given current global tensions,” Prime Minister Mitchell said in response to a request by Prime Minister Phillip J Pierre for assistance to quell the gun violence in Vieux Fort where at least seven people were killed.
“Our small, and often close-knit, communities have no place for this level of violence, which threatens the lives and livelihoods of our citizens, and places our tourism-dependent economies at risk. We call on all parties to work with the relevant authorities towards a peaceful solution,” Mitchell added.
Mitchell said that the Grenada government “stands in solidarity with the law-abiding citizens of St. Lucia and urges all concerned to refrain from harmful retaliatory actions that seek to unravel the peaceful nature of our societies
In a statement, the police said that the nine persons are assisting their investigations into “several murders” in Vieux Fort including 59-year-old Sylvanus Joseph, 52- year old Dexter Vitalis, 43-year-old-year-old Marcus Charlery, as well as 66 year-old Eustace Roland.
“The Royal St. Lucia Police Force encourages anyone with information in relation to these incidents to contact the nearest police station…or the CRIME-Hotline at 555 for anonymous reporting,” the police statement said.
Education Minister Shawn Edward, confirmed that schools in the southern town had re-opened on Monday after they were closed last Friday due to the deadly gun violence.
“The police have a physical presence at all the schools in Vieux Fort this morning, quite apart from those who have been deployed in the various pockets just to provide added security,” said Edward, who led a delegation that included representatives of the National Principals Association, and the St. Lucia Teachers’ Union.
Edward said the events last weekend had left both teachers and students traumatised and that following discussions with the high command, assurances were given that the security situation had improved and measures were in place to allow schools to reopen.
“As a Ministry and as a government, we are taking the situation very seriously and working very closely with the police to put measures in place to improve the security that would allow for schools to continue as they would have prior to the eruption of gun violence towards the tail-end of last week,” Edward said.
“We are monitoring the situation on an hourly basis. We are in conversation almost on an hourly basis with the high command of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force and even some of the officers on the ground because it is a very dynamic situation,” he said, noting “once we get to a situation where we believe the situation has become volatile again, we will not hesitate to close schools”.
Edwards acknowledged that some schools visited had a lower turnout saying “that probably has a lot to do with the fact that the main catchment area for the primary school would be the communities in Vieux Fort where the gun violence has erupted.
“In the case of the secondary school the catchment area is much wider,” Edward said.
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