‘Quarantined’ West Point Turns Chaotic

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A lad, who identified himself as Shaki Kamara, sustained a deep injury in his right leg shin Wednesday, August 20, when joint troops from the Police Support Unit (PSU) of the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) and the Armed Forces Of Liberia (AFL) attempted to dispersed hundreds of stone-throwing West Pointers who had gone on a rampage.

The rioting West Point residents took over the main thoroughfare, pelting stones and marching towards the security personnel who were manning the blockade situated in front of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).

Our reporter observed members of the PSU retreating and later regrouping a few blocks away from the barricade. The onward marching residents almost overpowered the security team detailed at the ‘quarantine checkpoint’. It was at this juncture that members of the AFL team began to fire in the air in an attempt to disperse the crowd which was fast becoming uncontrolable.

When the firing subsided, and the rioting crowd was effectively contained, Shaki Kamara was brought from the dispersed crowd bleeding profusely with a deep  wound on his right leg and a deep laceration on his left ankle.

Eye witnesses said the lad sustained the wound as a result of a stray bullet, while others claimed that he was sandwiched between a water trawler and the fence wire barricading the quarantined West Point.

After the security detail finally overpowered the rioting crowd by also firing muscle blast into the air, they, accompanied by members of the press, marched through the main street of West Point up to the beach. The officers were seen ordering residents to remain indoors.

All stores, shops, business centers and private homes were closed. The entire West Point Township, which had earlier gone amok, was now returning to calm and the community appeared like a ghost town.

Some residents were seen chanting between houses, “We are hungry; we want food.”

When contacted later by reporters, Lt/Col. Davidson Foleh said the AFL personnel were forced to disperse the crowd by firing rounds of bullets in the air. He insisted that they did not shoot directly at the rioting crowd. He emphatically denied AFL soldiers ever shooting little Shaki in the leg.

Events leading up to the Wednesday morning riot in West Point started days before, following some residents’ refusal to allow the establishment of a ‘Withholding Center’ for Ebola patients in the township. It was reported that following the shutting down of the center, some residents immediately moved in and took away the belongings of some of those who had been quarantined there; but the suspected Ebola patients fled the center immediately after the attack began and relocated within the community.

This action led to the Government of Liberia (GOL) quarantining the entire West Point. This eventually led to hundreds of ‘West Pointers’ taking on a defiant posture and challenging the security detail on grounds that they needed to get out of West Point.

West Point is skewed in the South Western part of Monrovia, with basically one main entrance and two ‘foot path’ backroad passes.

The quarantining of West Point caught many visitors and residents unaware.

Sampson Junior, a hair dresser, said he had gone to West Point to do business early this morning and was quarantined. He, like many other people, were seen appealing to the security personnel to let them return to their respective communities.

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