13 December 2012

Liberia: AFL 'Brutality' Creates Chaos

Tension erupted in Gbarnga City, Bong County, on Wednesday following misunderstanding between commercial motorcyclists and members of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

Several motorcyclists took the streets and set up road blocks at the Gbarnga Iron gate demanding justice in the situation involving one of their colleagues who was allegedly stabbed several times by an officer of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

The Liberia National Police immediately moved on the scene to restore calm as vehicles entry and exit from Gbarnga were being restricted as a result of the motorcyclists melee.

Report says the violence by commercial motorcyclists was being perpetrated at the time the National Vision 2030 conference was taking place.

The trouble started when a girl, yet to be identified, chartered a motorcyclist to take her to the Military barracks which was initially a L$25.00 distance; but upon reaching the destination, the motorcyclist identified as Perry Togba demanded L$35.00.

The motorcyclist argued that the increment was due to the hike in the price of petroleum product, especially gasoline. But the girl who was said to have gone to visit her fiancé at Camp Tubman Military Barracks insisted on paying the regular fee of L$25.00 something which sparked the confusion between them.

The argument between the girl and motorcyclist degenerated thereby drawing the attention of the AFL personnel not named. The AFL officer reportedly came from the barracks with a knife in his possession and allegedly brutalized the motorcyclist.

It is not clear as to what really provoke the military personnel, but eyewitnesses said he allegedly stabbed the motorcyclist three times in the head leaving the victim critically wounded.

According to our correspondent, the victim is unconscious as doctors at the C.B. Dunbar Hospital in Bong County observed his condition.

The suspected AFL soldier escaped in the barracks while the whereabouts of the girl remained unknown.

The standoff involving the motorcyclists and the military personnel created a lot of attention especially at the time President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other top government officials as well as international guests were in Gbarnga holding consultation on the National Vision 2030.

The motorcyclists claimed that they have been undergoing intimidation from security personnel since the arrival of the President and delegates in the county.

Latest reports say calm has returned to Gbarnga following an intervention of the county's authorities.

Meanwhile, Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs David Dahn said the ministry will launch a thorough investigation and appropriate actions will be taken against the officer when it is proven he actually committed that act.

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