Ebola Riots Liberia: “No Shoot To Kill”

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The intention was not to harm anyone but just to keep the crowd away, instead of the crowd stoning and trying to hurt. Understand that people are beating up health workers and they have attacked a Police vehicle and attacked security personnel. We cannot sit there, that is why we issued the warning shots to keep them away.”

Monrovia – All hell broke loose on Wednesday when Police tried to rescue the commissioner of West Point and family from her house in West Point. Residents of West Point besieged the house and Aisha Flowers was trapped inside along with her sick and frightened mother. As the Police backed by the army tried to get Flowers out, one angry resident said: “So y’all taking her and leaving us here? She must not come back here in West Point again.

As the rescue was underway, rocks, sticks, bottles, tables and anything residents could lay their hands on began to fly all over the place and the Police began to retreat. It took the military to try to contain the crowd, but the rocks and other objects continued to fly and people ran helter shelter, then the guns began to sound. Shots were fired into the air, but the angry residents kept coming towards the sound of fire.

One person dropped on the floor, it was a boy, who Defense Minister J. Brownie Samukai would later reveal , had sustained a cut from the barbed wires that was used for the blockade.  “The wound is a superficial wound, a wound in which the individual was jumping or was running or through the stampede wounded himself,” said Samukai.

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“The intention was not to harm anyone but just to keep the crowd away, instead of the crowd stoning and trying to hurt. Understand that people are beating up health workers and they have attacked a Police vehicle and attacked security personnel. We cannot sit there, that is why we issued the warning shots to keep them away.”

But the boy’s leg was seen hanging almost by a thread. Minister Samukai said the army was authorized to fire shots in the air, but not to use deadly force. “Once again, I want to make it very clear, that the Armed Forces of Liberia has not been issued any order of shoot to kill anybody out there at this point in time,” said Minister Samukai.

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“Those soldiers are under orders from this point, no decision on the use of those weapons against any PERSON can be issued without any clear instructions from the commander in chief to the minister of defense and through the chain of command of the Armed forces of Liberia.”

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The Police and army were able to rescue Flowers from the quarantined West Point area. Hawa Massally a resident of Vai Town and a market woman who sells at the Waterside market that was shut down as a result of the West Point quarantine said the government was unfair to impose such a measure without weighing the consequences on the ordinary people.

“I’m really vexed with the idea because some of us, we live here, but we go to West Point market to buy food for our children and since this morning our children have not eaten yet,” she said.  “Is it because of Ebola this woman (President) must kill us? We are tired with this thing. It is worse now.  You can’t close a business area and say because of Ebola.”

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Wednesday’s riot comes less than a week after another riot took place in the West Point community that saw the looting of a holding facility and the escape of over 17 suspected Ebola patients on last Saturday.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf imposed a 9PM to 6AM curfew that takes effect today and quarantined the West Point and Dolo Town communities as a result of the continuous Ebola outbreak that has become out of control. President Sirleaf announced more stringent measures in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus on Tuesday.

The incident in West Point is a stark reminder that the state of Emergency and the subsequent curfew and quarantining of communities will continue to pose challenges to the government in its effort to maintain law and order.

 

FPA

 

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