Liberia Ebola shooting leaves one dead

Liberian soldiers beat up a West Point resident

Liberian soldiers beat up a West Point resident

Titus Kessedy, a young man who was allegedly shot by Liberian soldiers last Wednesday (August 20) was taken back to hospital with severe stomach pains after  Sheaky Kamara, 15, another victim of the shooting, was confirmed dead at another local hospital.

Kessedy, 23, was discharged from the Redemption Hospital (where Kamara was anounced dead) last Friday but was later admitted at the Cooper Clinic in Sinkor after sleepless nights due to the bullet wound in his stomach.

According to Kessedy’s mother, her son had restless nights from pain and needed quick medical attention outside of West Point, the slum settlement in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, where the shooting took place, that is now being quarantined by government.

After hours of disagreement with state security officers over Kessedy leaving the quarantined zone, local authority from the Ministry of Internal Affairs intervened and transported him to the Cooper Clinic where he reportedly underwent an operation.

The shooting incident took the life of 15-year old Sheaky Kamara.

He died from apparent gunshot wounds, but the question remains as to who fired the shot that wounded and later killed the teenager and caused injuries to many others.

A wounded man is being helped onto the back of a vehicle

A wounded man is being helped onto the back of a vehicle

Hospital sources confirmed that there were gunshot wounds on Kamara but the Chief Medical Director Dr. Mohamed Sankor could not confirm the cause of death, noting that the boy was brought in with two others from the unrest scene.
He said the boy was bleeding profusely when he was brought in to the hospital. Dr. Sankor confirmed that the other two were discharged the next day.

Liberian government officials have said that no shots were fired at anybody and Defense Minister Brownie Samukai maintained that the deceased sustained the injuries as a result of tripping on a barbed wire or that he may have been stepped on in a rush.

“Whatever action we took was not lethal against any person. The person who got wounded, the 15-year-old chap, I’m aware of that individual wound. He broke his leg if I’m correct, as a result of the running and the hurry that they were involved in,” Minister Samukai told local radio station.

“There shouldn’t be any running or stampede as a matter of fact. As a matter of fact the individual who was running was being assisted by the Armed Forces of Liberia because he fell.”

The minister cleared the army of any wrongdoing in the matter, adding: “His crazy bone, knocked against something, so it was not a bullet that went down there. In fact, he was hurling a wall of water and his own, something due to the stampede he fell and that’s how he got wounded. So it had nothing to do with the AFL attacking anyone.”

The death of the teenager and no one to take responsibility for it has left the entire West Point Community tense that when a government-led relief team went into the area last Wednesday, they were not welcomed with open arms.

But Police Deputy Inspector General for Operation Col. Abraham Kromah confirmed that the late Kamara had bullet wounds and that an investigation would be conducted, contrary to Defense Minister Brownie Samukai’s statement that the boy sustained the injuries as a result of tripping on a barbed wire or that he may have been stepped on in a rush.

Liberian government soldiers in slum communtiy of West Point

Liberian government soldiers in slum communtiy of West Point

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s decision to quarantine West Point as a result of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the community has brought a once bustling Water Side Market to a complete standstill.

But President Sirleaf maintains that her decision to quarantine West Point and Dolo Town communities and also impose a national curfew was necessary to prevent a looming national health disaster.

She said due to the large population concentration the disease has spread widely in Monrovia and its environs and it has become necessary to impose additional sanctions to curb the spread overall and particularly in those areas of intensity including a curfew.

But the clashes in West Point and the subsequent wounds that led to the death of the teenager will continue to haunt the government because of how it handled the whole issue.

Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the umbrella organization of journalists, has condemned the  shooting of unarmed civilians in West Point, resulting in injury and death.

PUL President Abdulai Kamara said the government should have used different mechanism or approach in reaching out to the people of West Point rather than moving in armed men and shooting at the people and barricading the area.

According to Mr. Kamara, he understands that the looting of the quarantine center a week ago brought serious attention to the area.

“I know people will want to get offended but they should be educated. These people found themselves among the poor using live bullets on unarmed civilians. We are very uncomfortable with that. The work is about the people, it should not dominate the people, we don’t expect that the state of emergency is meant to have a due impact on the basic freedom of the people, rather than providing health care”, said Kamara. He said.

“I agree with measures to fight Ebola, but in an instance where now you have to allow the guns to be shooting to frighten people is not the best way. I think they should have worked with the community leaders and continue to work with them” he said.
The PUL president at the same time urged the government to take appropriate measures to stop the spread of the virus.
Mr. Kamara noted that action should be taken in line with appropriate procedures ensuring that they are acceptable to remove and avoid suffering of people in places to be quarantined.He said over the past few months since the outbreak of the virus, it has caused a whole lot of confusion and problems for ordinary citizens and measures should be put in place to reduce the suffering of the people.

“The people of West Point should have access to food, water and basic health care, in these situations where ordinarily it densely populated, government should act properly”.

“At the same time there must be additional action taken so the people don’t suffer. So that we don’t have a situation of double jeopardy since they are being restricted”, said Kamara.

He named some of issues that should be addressed as the provision of safe drinking water in order to avoid an outbreak of disease.

–Story & Photos Peter N. Toby