Monday, April 19, 2004
Cribbed from the Net
National Guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned weapons
were ambushed on April 19th by elements of a para-military extremist faction.
Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than
200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.
Speaking after the clash, the Governor declared that the extremist faction,
which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax
protest movement. Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism
directed against internal revenue offices. The Governor, who described the group's
organizers as "criminals," issued an executive order authorizing the
summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government's efforts
to secure law and order.
The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed wide-spread refusal by
the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed weapons. The Governor issued
a ban on private ownership of weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This
decision followed a meeting early this month between government and military
leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal
arms. One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out
that "none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed
the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily."
Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed
weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition
met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding
the government's plans.
During a tense standoff, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of
the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to
their homes. The impasse was broken when a single shot rang out. This shot was
reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists. Eight civilians were killed
in the ensuing exchange. Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces
rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths.
Before order could be restored, armed citizens from the surrounding areas had
descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces overmatched
by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.
The Governor has called upon citizens to support the state national joint task
force in its effort to restore law and order. The Governor has also demanded
the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against
the government troops. At this time, the ringleaders remain at large.
First reported on April 20, 1775