December 19, 2014
Liberian police open fire against people trying to break out of quarantine
Police in the Liberian capital Monrovia fired live rounds and tear gas today to disperse a stone-throwing crowd trying to break out of a quarantine imposed on their neighbourhood because of the Ebola virus, witnesses said.
At least four people were injured in the clash at the sprawling ocean-front West Point neighbourhood, witnesses said. It was unclear whether anyone was wounded by gunfire.
"The soldiers are using live rounds," said army spokesman Dessaline Allison. "The soldiers applied the rules of engagement. They did not fire on peaceful citizens. There will be medical reports if (an injury) was from bullet wounds."
The epidemic of the hemorrhagic disease, which can kill up to 90 percent of those it infects, is ravaging the three small West African states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and also has a toehold in Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy.
Liberian authorities introduced a nationwide curfew yesterday and put the teeming West Point neighbourhood under quarantine to curb the spread of the disease.
Liberia recorded 53 deaths between August 14 and 16, far more than any other affected country, according to figures by the World Health Organisation.
Attempts to isolate the worst affected areas of the country and neighbouring Sierra Leone have raised fears of unrest in one of the world's poorest regions should communities start to run low on food and medical supplies.
Witnesses said the clash started after security forces blocked roads to West Point early on Wednesday with tables, chairs and barbed wire. Security forces came in to escort the local commissioner out of the neighbourhood, they said.