The Inquirer (Monrovia)

Liberians Mourn Guineans' Death

Monrovia was yesterday characterized by mournful expression thereby causing activities including businesses to close down due to the tragic death of eleven Guineans who died in a plane crash while on their way to attend Liberia's 56th.Armed Forces Day celebration.

Following the death of the Guinean Army Chief of Staff and other military personnel, Liberian Government officials including foreign guests trooped to the scene of the plane crash.

After consultation with her cabinet, the Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleafon Monday by proclamation declared yesterday a National Day of Mourning for the immense loss sustained to be observed as a "National Holiday" throughout the Republic.

According to the Liberian leader, the day was set aside in honor of the gallant and distinguished fallen regional military officers and flight crew.

In the proclamation, the Government of Liberia said it has learned with utter shock and regrets the news of a plane crash near Monrovia, in the early hours of Monday, February 11, 2013, which claimed the lives of the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Guinea, General KelefaDiallo, and nine others comprising Guinean military officers and flight crew, who were on their way to attend the 56th Anniversary of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

At the same time, the Liberian Government has declared a four-day of mourning to be observed in Liberia for the death of the Guineans.

President Sirleaf on behalf of her Government and the people of Liberia extended condolence message to the government and people of the sisterly Republic of Guinea for the untimely death of their army officials and other staff who were on their way to Liberia for the observance of the Armed Forces Day of Liberia.

Due to the presidential pronouncement, Liberians and foreign nationals including Guineans residing in Liberia abandoned all activities and remained at their various homes in memory of the fallen Guineans.

The remains of the eleven dead people have reportedly been flown back home for befitting burial.

The Guinean Chief of Staff along with four other military personnel and five civilians including a journalist were killed on Monday when their aircraft crashed close to the Liberian capital Monrovia, ElhadjiAbdoudaye Dore, the Guinean Ambassador to Liberia confirmed to newsmen in Monrovia minutes following the celebration of Liberia's Armed Forces Day.

Guinea's military chief, General KelefaDiallo, was on the plane on a security mission to Liberia, police in Guinea said. According to report, Diallo was a close ally of Guinean President Alpha Conde, who was elected to lead the world's top bauxite producer in late 2010, ending two years of military rule.

Amb. Dore and security officials in Liberia disclosed that at about eleven persons were killed in the crash, which occurred at Charlesville, Margibi County some 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Monrovia.

"Senior Guinean military and defense officials were on the plane," Reuters quoted Liberian Defense Minister, Brownie Samukaias saying. Minutes following the Armed Forces Day celebration, Liberian Government officials along with other dignitaries trooped to the site of the plane crash in Margibi County.

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) offered its condolences and sympathy today to Government of the Republic of Guinea and the family and friends of the passengers who perished this morning when their aircraft crashed close to the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has extended its condolences and sympathy to the Government of the Republic of Guinea and the family and friends of the passengers who perished yesterday when their aircraft crashed close to the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

"The aircraft reportedly crashed while travelling from Guinea to the Liberian capital. The passengers included a number of Guinea's high ranking military officers who were travelling to attend Liberia's National Armed Forces Day celebrations on Monday," a statement from UNMIL noted.

UNMIL says it supported the Liberian Authorities with their response and recovery efforts, and is now supporting the conduct of a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding Monday's incident.

At the same time, the Sierra Leone Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Rev. Doctor Marie J. Barnet on Tuesday of this week signed the book of Condolence at the Guinean Embassy as her country's way of identifying with the death of eleven persons as a result of the aircraft that took them from Guinea and crashed on the Liberian soil.

According to Information Minister, Lewis Brown, the plane departed Guinea for Liberia but as fate may have it, it crashed on the Liberian soil in Charlseville some miles away from the Roberts International Airport. Onboard the aircraft were the Guinean Chief of Staff Col. Diallo, four high ranking military personnel, five civilians and a journalist.

Before signing the Book of Condolence, Ambassador Barnet extended verbally to the people and Government of Sierra Leone her country and people's deepest condolence for the loss of the service men of that sisterly nation Guinea. She then prayed God's blessing upon the lives of those that died.

Ambassador Rev. Doctor Marie J. Barnet said she has communicated with the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone to dispatch a high powered delegation to form part of the ceremony as a way of maintaining the closeness that had existed between Sierra Leone and Guinea over the years.

Ambassador Barnet later spoke with journalists before leaving for her Tubman Boulevard's Office of the Sierra Leone Embassy. She then referred to the death of the eleven persons as a Mano River Union issue.

She also thanked President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for declaring a special day of mourning for those that died and that the move by the Liberian leader is indeed a clear manifestation of the ties between the two countries over the years.

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