Police, Military Ordered to Shoot-on-Sight
PTI | September 2, 2005
Anarchy prevailed in the flooded city of New Orleans and shoot-at-sight orders were issued to check spiralling violence there in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina even as the US Senate granted a $10.5 billion aid package for relief operations.
Shoot-to-kill orders were deployed in New Orleans on Thursday in an attempt to bring back order after days of chaos and looting in the hurricane-devastated city.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said 300 troopers from the Arkansas National Guard had been authorised to open fire on "hoodlums" who have been terrorising the city in the wake of the disaster, feared to have killed thousands and left thousands more stranded and homeless.
"These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well trained, experienced, battle tested and under my orders to restore order in the streets. They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will," Blanco said.
There were reports of gunbattles and rapes with gangs of looters and carjackers roaming in the streets and bodies lying by the roadside. Some helicopters bringing relief supplies were shot at and arsonists set fire to some of the few buildings still standing in the city.
Meanwhile, in an extraordinary late night session, the US Senate voted unanimously to pass $10.5 billion as special funding for Hurricane Katrina victims.
The House of Representatives was to meet on Friday to examine the measure and send it on to the White House for the signature of President George W Bush.
Anger mounted across the ruined city of New Orleans on Thursday with thousands of victims hungry, desperate and tired of waiting for buses to take them out.
The city's mayor Ray Nagin issued an urgent plea for help for upto 20,000 refugees stuck in the convention centre which he said was "unsanitary and unsafe" and running out of supplies.
"This is a desperate SOS," Nagin said in a statement released through CNN television.
Blanco said upto 300,000 survivors may still be stuck in disaster areas in the state and at least 40,000 uniformed troops were needed for New Orleans alone.
Although no precise death toll was available, Blanco and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu said several thousand people were now believed to have been killed by Katrina which has caused an estimated damage of more than $20 billion.
Meanwhile, President George W Bush has vowed "zero tolerance" for the armed gangs and other profiteers from the devastation in the wake of Katrina.
Bush is scheduled to tour the devastated Gulf Coast region on Friday and has asked his father George Bush (Senior) and former President Bill Clinton to lead a private fund-raising campaign for the victims.
World leaders expressed sympathy with the US government and those affected by the calamity and offered aid and assistance to help the victims.