Reprisal threat after Liberia massacre
Tuesday 08 June 1993
The West African intervention force, known as Ecomog, immediately blamed Mr Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) for the murders and mutilation of men, women and children war refugees living at the abandoned Firestone rubber plantation near Harbel, about 40 miles (65km) north of Monrovia.
'They were shot, they were mutilated and some of them had their heads broken and their throats cut,' Augustine Mahiga, a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) official in Monrovia, told reporters.
'So these people who came wanted the rice and they ordered every person to come out of the camps. Then there was random shooting,' he said. 'I wasn't there at the scene but what I saw this afternoon was very gruesome, horrible.' Witnesses said the NPFL carried out the raid, Mr Mahiga reported, but there was no hard evidence to link the organisation with the massacre. Mr Taylor, in an interview with the BBC, denied responsibility for the killings and said the accusations would be used to justify an Ecomog offensive.
Harbel, controlled since February by Ecomog forces and their allied Liberian militias, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the United Liberation Movement (Ulimo), was the site of an Ecomog bombing raid last October when cluster bombs killed 24 and wounded 150 people. The bombing of Harbel, close to Robertsfield International Airport, took place one week after Mr Taylor broke a ceasefire and attempted to capture Monrovia. Since then, employing jet bombers, tanks and assistance from the AFL and Ulimo militias, Ecomog has scored gains against the NPFL, capturing the strategic port of Buchanan early last month.
In recent weeks, however, Mr Taylor's young, highly mobile fighters have infiltrated Ecomog-controlled territory and attacked behind the lines. Mr Taylor, who led a rebellion in 1989 to oust the former military dictator Samuel Doe, has said he would only consider a ceasefire once the 16,000-strong Nigerian contingent in Ecomog is reduced. He has urged the UN to take over the peace effort.
Ecomog has attempted to tighten an economic noose around the 50 per cent of Liberia that remains in NPFL hands, a territory popularly known as 'Taylorland', by halting all shipments of food aid through neighbouring countries and by bombing international aid convoys which violate the ban. Trucks of the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres were attacked last month. The top UN representative in Monrovia, Ross Mountain of New Zealand, was recalled after criticising the Ecomog plan to channel all aid shipments through Monrovia before moving across rebel lines.
One UN spokesman said Mr Mountain's removal was requested by the interim government of President Amos Sawyer, but Mr Mountain himself later denied it.
Mr Sawyer's Ecomog-protected government last week imposed press censorship, saying all war-related stories must be submitted to the ministries of justice and information.
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli targeting policy under scrutiny after shellfire hits a mother and child, a school full of refugees and a doctor’s home
Iraq crisis: Isis orders Mosul shop keepers to cover mannequins
Comic Con 2014 attendees
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...