A shootout between gang members and the Liberia National Police has reportedly caused the death of three bystanders.
The exchange of gunfire broke out after the police and a team of joint security officers attempted to raid ghettos in Duala, Bushrod Island, where some of the country’s hardcore gang members have their hideout.
But the raid backfired, resulting in some fierce exchange of gunfire between police and gang members, who were armed with single barrel guns, and not afraid to take on the police who came with superior weapons.
Bystanders had claimed that those who died were all hit by stray bullets and their bodies were covered with pieces of carton found in the Duala market area. The incident took place in broad daylight yesterday, at a time when gang members, most of whom are drug addicts, are out lurking around unsuspecting victims.
“The team visited ‘Kuwait’, a neighborhood in Duala, Bushrod Island. Our Police came under firing attack and that made the police apply proportional force,” disclosed Police spokesman, Moses Carter.
He added that the exchange of fire between the criminals and the Police left three persons reportedly unconscious and “were rushed to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.”
“We will let the public know the details about those rushed there, should the report be made available to us. Two single barrel arms with 48 rounds have so far been seized from one of the ghettos raided in the operation,” Carter said. “Five empty shells of the single barrel arm had been discharged. A huge police force has been deployed in Duala and its environs to ensure our people are safe.
He further reported that fourteen alleged hardcore criminals were arrested and they are in Police custody pending investigation.
Carter added that a male officer of the Monrovia City Corporation sustained a major wound on his arm during the gun battle and is currently undergoing medical treatment. Yesterday's incident left Duala residents in shock, despite not being strangers to the violent criminal activities of these gangs, many of whose members are drug addicts.
The area of the shootout is home to hardcore drug addicts who usually terrorize people with cutlasses and guns. The number of criminals on the streets of Monrovia and its environs has grown within the last few years and new groups continue to emerge, making the citizenry live in apprehension of fear from these criminals.
They are notorious for coming out at night, even in the day, to hijack people. Their hideouts are most often visible and in the public glare. And in 2019, after a police raid on their coalfield hideout in Red Light, they threatened to disturb normal business activities, although that did not happen.
The Coalfield base, one of their hideouts and which is still in existence, is the area from where they constantly harass passersby during the night hours. Later that year, they walked several miles from the business hub of Red-light to Fiamah Community in Sinkor, brandishing deadly weapons and terrorizing residents of the community with open hooliganism.
Their presence in Fiamah was to avenge the death of their leader, known as King Pharaoh, who was one of their leaders. ‘King Pharaoh’ was killed in his bed by an alleged rival, one ‘Man Devil’ ‘who happens to be a leader of another gang from Fiamah. The quarrels between the two gang leaders came as a result of news that a member of the ‘Man Devil’ gang was allegedly assaulted by ‘King Pharaoh.
They also set ablaze the home of ‘Man-Devil,’ who could not be found. Prior to moving to Fiamah Community, they damaged several properties at the Renaissance NightClub where the fight originated. And in Duala early this year, a standoff ensued between the police, and these gangs after colleagues got killed. They took the street with weapons and injured bystanders again – repeating similar acts in Kakata, Margibi County.
Meanwhile, Inspector General of the Police, Patrick Sudue, has disclosed that they received a tip about a hideout named “the base,” which hosts drug addicts who assemble there daily to harass, shall steal, and harm people in the night and day.
“We got the tip and we came to execute our plan. Going after criminals have been my major operation before becoming Inspector General of Police. This is why I will not sit and watch them harm our peaceful citizens and all other residents in the country,” Sudue said as he visited the scene in Duala.
Sudue added that the raids of ghettos across Monrovia and beyond are intended to ensure there is a peaceful festive season and it will continue beyond the festive season as long as life-threatening situations exist.
“The Police always come to us here and we give them money. Yesterday they came and asked us to produce a fellow whom they say committed a crime somewhere else, but ran away and came to us,” said Joseph, one of the drug addicts who escaped the police raid.
“We don’t know where he is and we could not produce him. That is how they started beating us and one of our friends was killed in the process.”