IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 61-97, 10/9/97

IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 61-97, 10/9/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for West Africa

Tel: +225 21-63-35

Fax: +225 21-63-35


IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 61-97 of Events in West Africa, 9 October 1997

[As a supplement to its weekly round-ups of main events in West Africa, IRIN-WA will produce a daily synopsis of international media reports on the region. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original source.]

SIERRA LEONE: AFRC leaders escape ECOMOG bombing

Nigerian warplanes serving under the West African peacekeeping force, ECOMOG, bombed and damaged the Sierra Leone army headquarters yesterday (Wednesday) in western Freetown. The director of defense information, Major John Milton, said the attack was probably prompted by an Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) meeting at the base, which was to have been attended by AFRC leader Major Johnny Paul Koroma and other high-ranking officials. The meeting was cancelled at the last minute. Milton described the attack as an "assassination attempt" on Koroma and held the Nigerian contingent of ECOMOG responsible, AFP reported.

Initial reports said that the Nigerian jet first flew over the army base mid-afternoon yesterday and then returned at about 1600 (local and GMT) firing rockets. The Nigerian Alpha-jet fired seven rockets, killing at least two soldiers and two civilians, while 28 were injured, news organisations reported. An independent radio station said that over 60 people were killed and 40 injured in the attack. Local sources told IRIN that it was very difficult to get confirmation of casualty figures as the area around the base has been cordoned off and soldiers were "tight-lipped" about this incident.

News sources said the military base was partially destroyed. The conference room was flattened and the communications centre rendered inoperative. The power station at the complex was also destroyed along with the military police security entrance, the administrative block and a car park.

This attack coincided with the adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution imposing sanctions backing the ECOWAS embargo. More than 200 people have been killed in various ECOMOG attacks on Freetown since 2 June. Source: AFP, Reuters, and BBC.

ECOMOG explains bombing

An ECOMOG press release today (Thursday) said that ECOMOG military planes were forced to "neutralise" an AFRC helicopter gunship. ECOMOG said the gunship had been bombing ECOMOG-protected areas in the last few days. The gunship had opened fire on an ECOMOG chopper as it was re-supplying ECOMOG troops. An ECOMOG jet on routine patrol searched for and destroyed the gunship "as it was parking in its hideout at the junta's army headquarters." Diplomatic sources in Conakry, who monitor the situation closely in Freetown, were unable to confirm the ECOMOG statement. Source: ECOMOG press release and IRIN

Local reaction

In the aftermath of the ECOMOG bombing, local sources told IRIN that the situation in Freetown was tense. Some people were "rejoicing" over the raid, perceived as an AFRC "defeat". Others were mourning the dead, Sylvester Rodgers, a journalist atthe 'The Vision' said.The AFRC has called on its supporters to stage a demonstration against Nigeria, Rodgers said. The home of ousted president Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah in Freetown was burned down last night, probably in retaliation to the ECOMOG bombing, another source reported. Sierra Leoneans are bracing for harsher times ahead with the imposition of further economic sanctions and a possible escalation of tensions between ECOMOG and the AFRC. Rodgers told IRIN that Sam Bockarie, the number two of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), had pledged, in an interview, to defend the AFRC regime "to the last". Source: IRIN and AFP.

ECOWAS Committee of Five met

The ECOWAS Committee of Five on Sierra Leone is due to meet today in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss the UN Security Council sanctions. The Committee is made up of Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Guinea, and Cote d'Ivoire. The Security Council plans to review the sanctions'implementation and the AFRC's compliance in six month's time. Russia, in particular, has expressed concerns about imposing open-ended sanctions and sought humanitarian exceptions to the embargo, AFP reported.Source:AFP

LIBERIA: China closes Liberian Hong Kong consulate

China ordered the closure of the Liberian consulate in Hong Kong today. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Minister said: "As the Liberian government openly pursued dual recognition in an attempt to create 'two Chinas', the Chinese government has hereby decided to close the honorary consulate."Formal ties were severed in September following President Charles Taylor's decision to recognise both China and Taiwan.

Earlier this week, Taiwan announced the donation of a US$ 3 million consignment of rice to Liberia as a humanitarian gesture, Star Radio reported. A Taiwanese technical team visiting Liberia also pledged that Taiwan would reactivate and support a number of agriculture projects. Source: Reuters, AFP and Star Radio (Fondation Hirondelle).

Media barred from senate hearing

A group of independent journalists have protested over a decision to bar them from covering a senate confirmation hearing yesterday. Senator Thomas Nimely of the Senate Investment and Concession Committee gave no explanation for his directive banning seven private media agencies from attending. Journalists for the state-owned radio ELBC, Kiss-FM and the Inquirer newspaper were permitted to cover the hearing. This is the first time that duly accredited reporters have been prevented from covering senate activities under the new government. Source: Star Radio (Fondation Hirondelle).

CAMEROON: Minister says poll date to stand

The Cameroonian Minister of Communication and government spokesman rejected the possibility of postponing the presidential elections due to be held on Sunday, 12 October. He also said that France, the former colonial power, had not requested a postponement in support of recent demands by Cameroonian opposition leaders. Source: AFP.

Opposition calls for boycott of election

The leaders of the three main opposition parties boycotting the elections have called for the cessation of all activities on the day of the polls. They urged their supporters to encourage others in their community not to vote. They also appealed to the eight opposition candidates still running in the election to join the boycott.

The three parties denied recent allegations in the government press that they were encouraging armed resistance. The boycott is "a civic exercise aimed at blocking the election, but without violence" their spokesman told a joint press conference yesterday. They said responsibility for the misinformation "lies solely with the authors" of the reports.Regional officials told Reuters they have been authorised to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew if trouble breaks in the provincial capital Bamenda, an opposition stronghold. Over 100 Cameroonians have been staging a sit-in at their embassy in Cote d'Ivoire since Tuesday. They are calling for postponement of the elections. Source: AFP and Reuters.

NIGER: Tuareg rebels claim 13 soldiers killed

A Tuareg rebel movement in Niger said they had killed 13 soldiers and taken several hostages in an attack on a military convoy near Agadez, 750 km north of the capital. The Ministry of Defence said only one soldier had been killed, another seriously injured and four drivers taken hostage in an attack by the Armed Revolutionary Forces of the Sahara (FARS). The rebels, from the Toubou ethnic group, were one of the few groups that refused to sign the 1995 peace accord. Speaking on state television on yesterday,the minister of the defence said "the government would take the necessary steps to disable all elements who have distance themselves from the peace pact." Source: AFP

CHAD: Peace agreement signed with rebel groups

The Chadian government signed a peace agreement with four rebel groups yesterday.The agreement includes a general amnesty for the rebels and the formation of political parties. The government has promised to help refugees from Sudan to return and, in conjunction with UNHCR, to assist in their reintegration into the community. The government also promised to reinstate public service workers and former military personnel who left their jobs for political reasons. The four groups include the Front National du Tchad (FNT), the Front National du Tchad Renouve (FNTR), the Mouvement pour la Justice Sociale et la Democratie (MJJSD) and the Conseil Democratique Revolutionnaire (CDR-Volcan). Source: AFP

Abidjan, 9 October 1997


[Via the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa (IRIN-WA) Reports mailing list. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the UN or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts from this report should be attributed to the original sources where appropriate. For further information: e-mail, Tel: +225 217367 Fax:+225 216335.]

Message-Id: <> Date: Thu, 09 Oct 1997 19:52:33 +0100 From: UN DHA IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 61-97, 9 October 1997 97.10.09 Mime-Version: 1.0

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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