Army Chief Denies Claims against AFL

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The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Brigadier/General Daniel Ziankahn, has denied rumors that officers of the AFL are engaged in rape, harassment and armed robbery activities in the Port City of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

Since the imposition of the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew (now 11 p.m. to 6a.m.) by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, rumors emanating from Buchanan have alleged that uniformed, armed AFL soldiers were engaging in rape, harassment and armed robbery during curfew hours.

A similar situation is also being reported in Monrovia, where the issue of armed robbery is on the increase. In Monrovia, it is being reported that the robbers are dressed in Army and Police uniforms and usually carry arms.

But speaking on a local radio station, Magic FM, in Buchanan last week, when he was asked about the alleged situation in that county, General Ziankahn, refuted such claims. He said officers of the AFL would not be engaged in such acts. They are also stationed too far from Buchanan to surface at night to engage in such activities.

The AFL Chief was speaking upon his return from the Timbo River Bridge between Grand Bassa and Rivercess counties, where AFL soldiers are deployed to protect that border after it was ordered closed by the government few months ago.

He said the soldiers are operating with only one vehicle and that the distance from Timbo River Bridge is far from Buchanan for such acts. He further indicated that all of the officers assigned at the bridge are on duty together.  “So it is hard to believe that the soldiers could be in that city at night raping and robbing people,” he said.

General Ziankahn suggested that people who might have been involved in such acts are those that have access to camouflage and other security uniforms and not necessary the soldiers.

“What the public should know is that people are masquerading wearing camouflage and other security uniforms on our streets, and there is no law against this in our country,” he said.

Gen. Ziankahn then reminded citizens of Buchanan that every soldier of the AFL is identifiable by the rank insignias worn on their uniforms.  He called on the citizens not to be afraid of the AFL.

The purpose of his visit was to inspect the operations of the Joint Security Task Force at the Timbo River Bridge, which includes the AFL, Police, Immigration and the Drug Enforcement Agency.  He warned citizens to respect the curfew imposed by government to contain the Ebola virus.

According to the Liberia News Agency (LiNA), in the past weeks, four houses in central Buchanan and Biafra communities have been reportedly terrorized by armed men during curfew, leading to a 27-year-old woman being raped.

The most recent report came from Biafra community, accusing men dressed in military uniform of flogging residents during curfew, all of which Gen. Ziankahn said are untrue.

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