LIBERIA: Five localities occupied by dissidents, [19990812]

LIBERIA: Five localities occupied by dissidents, [19990812]

LIBERIA: Dissidents occupy five areas, deputy minister says

ABIDJAN, 12 August 1999 (IRIN) - Armed dissidents have occupied five localities in north-western Liberia, Deputy Information Minister Milton Teahjay told IRIN on Thursday.

Teahjay said a state of emergency had been declared in the five localities - Monokoma, Kolahun, Sardhu, Konjo and Benduman - to give the security forces "an opportunity to deal with the situation before it spreads to neighbouring towns".

"No one has claimed responsibility yet for launching the attacks, but what is clear is that they crossed over from Guinean territory," Teahjay said.

The Liberian government, which has closed the border with Guinea and "put in place the necessary security apron to hold off the assailants," hopes to have the situation cleared up in the next few days, he added.

According to news reports, many people have been fleeing the area. Asked about this, Teahjay said: "We don't have figures on how many people have been moving from village to village".

However, he said that when insurgents moved into an area as has happened in the five localities, population movements were to be expected.

Investigation into plane crash

Teahjay also told IRIN that a full investigation into the plane crash which killed police director Joe Tate and six others was underway.

President Charles Taylor has instructed the Ministry of Transport to ask the company that manufactured the plane to go to Liberia to offer technical advice and assistance to try and find out if there was a fault with the plane that may have contributed to the crash, Teahjay said.

There will also be a full investigation to see whether the "airport facilities" were a contributory factor, he said.

The eight-seater Cessna aircraft crashed on Tuesday night near the Roberts International Airport some 40 km east of Monrovia. The group had been returning from Maryland County in the south-east of the country after investigating reports of ritualistic killings, news organisations said.

The other passengers were: Chief of Traffic Walter Pelham, Assistant Director for Special Services Colonel Amie Wreh, Chief of Task Force Cecelia Lewis, a body guard, a church pastor who had asked for a ride to Monrovia and the pilot.

All the bodies have now been recovered, Teahjay said.

Tate played a key role in Liberian politics for many years, first as one of Taylor's top commanders during the country's seven-year civil war and then as a leading member of his administration.


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Item: irin-english-1411

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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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