April 12, 2001

Second major fire in Guyana this week amid unrest

                  GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- Guyana's capital suffered its second major fire
                  in a week amid street protests by opposition party supporters, as a blaze of
                  undetermined cause destroyed an unoccupied wooden building Thursday.

                  The early morning fire destroyed a Georgetown building that has been for sale
                  for years and was once occupied by an appliance company. No one was injured.

                  Around the same time a small fire broke out at a 120-year-old Anglican church
                  nearby, and was quickly extinguished. Police removed two plastic containers
                  with what was believed to be flammable substances, said the Rev. Oswald
                  Trellis, an Anglican priest.

                  The opposition People's National Congress has denied playing any role in the
                  fires. Governing party officials recently alleged that opposition leaders have
                  encouraged supporters to set fires.

                  On Monday, a fire in a main commercial district destroyed a dozen buildings and
                  left several injured. One woman was killed when police shot over the heads of a
                  crowd to keep them away from the fire. Officials have not determined the cause
                  of that fire.

                  Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis said police were investigating the fires and
                  had some leads and clues.

                  The fires came amid unrest among opposition supporters who accuse the
                  recently re-elected governing party, backed by ethnic East Indians, of
                  discrimination against blacks, who make up the bulk of opposition supporters.

                  Opposition supporters also have protested results of March 19 elections that
                  gave the People's Progressive Party its third consecutive term in the South
                  American former British colony. The opposition has said many of its supporters
                  were left off the registry and unable to vote. At least 60 people have been injured
                  in the street protests.

                  About 2,000 opposition supporters had an all-night vigil near President Bharrat
                  Jagdeo's office through Thursday morning. No incidents were reported.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.