News / Africa

    Liberia’s Defense Minister: Soldiers Did Not Fire on Protesters

    Liberian defense minister Brownie Samukai
    Liberian defense minister Brownie Samukai
    James Butty

    Liberia’s Defense Minister said troops enforcing Monrovia’s West Point slum Ebola quarantine did not shoot directly at residents Wednesday.  

    Brownie Samukai said a large crowd, mostly youths, attacked the soldiers who were sent to rescue the female commissioner of the area, Aisha Flowers, who had been held hostage.  

    He said the soldiers fired in the air to disperse the protesters. Samukai said three persons were wounded, not by gunfire, but when they tried to cross over a barb wire security barricade.

    “This morning, a group of unruly residents came and began to attack the police and military personnel, throwing rocks, sticks, anything they could put their hands on. And, they went to attack the residence of the district commissioner. It was within the context of that that shots were fired in the air, I repeat, in the air to disperse the crowds,” he said.

    Patricks, national director of Liberia Campaigners for Change, a human rights organization, said the soldiers used live fire on the protesters.

    “I’m telling you live bullets were used.  A 15 year-old boy by the name of Sylvester Kromah was shot in the leg by the Liberian army, the AFL (Armed Forces of Liberia).  When he went to rescue one of his family members, who also received a bullet in the process, his leg was shot by the AFL soldiers,” Patricks said.

    Samukai said one of the three people injured while attempting to breach the security line suffered a fractured leg.

    He said the government has no intention to increase the hardship of the people, and that the curfew and state of emergency are intended to minimize human-to-human contact, thereby breaking the chain of transmission of the Ebola virus.

    “The key issue is that there is a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in a very congested community.  We have to find the way to cut the spread of the virus. And, the way to cut the spread of the virus is to make sure that we are positioned in a way to identify those who have the sickness and, at the same [time], identify those who need assistance,” Samukai said.

    Patricks said the Ebola quarantine, the curfew and the state of emergency have deprived the people of West Point, who he describes as mostly as “hustlers,” of their livelihood.

    Samukai said the government has taken measures to make sure that food is available to the “most vulnerable” people of West Point.

    “What the government intends to do is to find a mechanism through the marketing leadership to provide some kind of subsidy to reduce the increasing price of rice that is taking place at this time.  And then, thirdly, those that have been identified as vulnerable persons in the health sector will be given free food,” Samukai said.

    Patricks said the residents held Flowers hostage because they did not agree with the government’s decision to remove her from the area.  After all, he said, she is a resident of the area and was also affected by the quarantine.

    “When the curfew was imposed, the commissioner was also there in West Point, and the mandate was that all those residing in West Point will not be allowed to leave West Point, and no one would be allowed to go into West Point. The commissioner, being a resident of that community, decided to leave with the help of some higher ups to go to another area.  So, the residents said you cannot leave us here because the law does not exclude anyone,” said Patricks.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora