6 July 2014

Liberia: Clashes Near in Arcelor Mittal's Mine

Several protestors from the Mining town of Zolowee, Nimba County have clashed with riot police officers after the police fired live bullets in the air to disburse them.

They are protesting against Arcelor Mittla's operation which they said had failed to address some key issues such as unpaid wages and crop compensation. The protestors blocked roads leading to one of the companies mine-Torkadeh and the rail road. Due to that, riot police was sent to the place to restore calm. But eye witnesses on the ground said the upon arrival on the scene, the riot police begun to shoot live bullet in the air and spray tear gas on the protestors. "It is true that protestors put road blocks on the rail and other areas. The police went to bring the situation down, but there were clashes," Senator Thomas Grupee told journalist Friday. He said, "we do not have the details but we have asked some lawmakers to go and investigate and help to calm the situation down."

Due to the seriousness of the incident, he said, some lawmakers have been sent to the place for verification. When this paper called Assistant Development Superintendent, Teeko Yorlay, he confirmed the incident but said, they were in serious meeting and would get back to the paper after the meeting,

Riot police was sent to the scene to restore calm. "But what some people on the ground told me is that the police opened fire in the air and started to spray tear gas on the people. I was not there. This made the people angry for some of them to take single barrel guns and started shooting too," the senator who hails from the region quoted eyewitness as saying.

This is not the first time for riot at Arcelor Mittla's operation. It is so far the worse on grounds that it led to several persons sustaining injury. The county is the home of Indian steel giant following the signing of 25 years mineral development contract with the Liberian Government.

Police spokesman, Sam Collins told reporters Friday that he has heard of the riot. "I am still getting more details on the incident in Nimba. I do know that there was a riot in that place and police officers were sent to bring it under control."

Senator Prince Y. Johnson has condemned the violence and renewed call for calm in the area as county officials, including the Nimba County Legislative Caucus, intervene to arrest the situation from reaching at a full blown proportion.

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