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Ceasefire Liberia: Reporting The Lofa Crisis

Liberia has recently seen some more violence as one young girl was killed and 4 more were killed in retaliation in the Lofa county situated in North of Liberia. Violence erupted and Churches and mosques have been burnt. This has been covered in Global Voices, which also quoted Rising Voices grantee Ceasefire Liberia's reports from the ground:

Meeting of Lofa citizen in Monrovia. Image courtesy Nat, CL

Meeting of Lofa citizen in Monrovia. Image courtesy Nat, CL

The cities of Voinjama and Zorzor in Lofa County have been engulfed with violence resulting in the deaths of four people and the destruction of property, including the burning of churches, schools and a mosque.

Lofa County is located in the north-western tip of Liberia and has several tribes and religions. It was also one of the hardest hit areas during the country’s 14 years of civil war.

The incidence which occured Friday was sparked by the discovery of the body of an eleventh-grade female student named Korpu Kamara, who had gone missing for days and was found dead a few days later next to a mosque in Zorzor.

As a result, dozens of students staged a protest as they suspected that their colleague’s death may have been carried out by the Muslims, a situation that turned the protest into religious violence that left many churches and Christian schools burned.

Nathan Charles informs:

A group calling itself the “Concerned Youth of Ganta for Reconstruction and Development” has condemned the recent destruction of life and property in Lofa County by those it calls hooligans.

Nathan also reports that The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has negated the rumors that its soldiers protected only member of the Muslim community during the recent violent crisis in Lofa County because the soldiers were predominantly Muslim.

Ceasefire Liberia's project director Ruthi Ackerman informs via an email:

There are many reports out there from the major news organizations like Reuters but from what I understand there are a lot of confusing reports as well. I know there has been a lot of talk about “ethnic undertones” to the violence but I'd say we should tread carefully with that because there are also a lot of land disputes Lofa county and what can look like religious or ethnic violence may actually stem from arguments over land.

Lofa County in northernmost Liberia. Capital: Voinjama.

Lofa County in northernmost Liberia. Capital: Voinjama.

In a recent update we learn:

In the wake of the recent Lofa violence, the Liberia National Police (LNP) announced in Monrovia that it has made several arrests including the seizing of 10 single barrel guns, 27 live rounds of ammunitions, 13 machetes and three knives that were used in the one day’s violence.

The police also arrested some inmates who broke the prison during the violence in Voinjama, the capital of the Lofa county.

Amidst the confusing mainstream media reports, the citizen journalists of Ceasefire Liberia are doing a great job in reporting the crisis. Their role is of great importance as free press has been targeted by allies still loyal to the former Liberia President, Charles Taylor.

Pocket Cultures recently featured Ceasefire Liberia in their Blogs of The World section. They will be will be interviewing some of the bloggers of Ceasefire Liberia.

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