Liberia: Citizens Riot Against Suspected Drug Users Leaves Five Dead

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Redlight, Paynesville – At least six persons have been reported dead in the commercial district of Red Light in Paynesville following a riot between angry residents and hawkers on one hand and suspected drug users otherwise known as “Zogos” on the other.

One of the deceased has been identified as Johnson Flomo, a pastor of the Pipeline Community while the remaining five are said to be alleged notorious drug users.

The angry residents and hawkers stormed and ransacked various hideouts of suspected drug users and criminals, injuring several of them.

Papie Zubah, an eyewitness who spoke with FrontPageAfrica, said the riot broke out Sunday Morning, August 4, after Pastor Flomo was attacked and killed by the ‘Zogos’.

The suspected criminals had demanded that he gave his cell phone to them and when he refused, he was stabbed in his neck, causing him to bleed to death.

“Johnson was bleeding badly and tried escaping from the criminals but he fell in a drainage along the main Pipeline Road where they were fighting. We were around but when we decided to get involved the Zogos escaped the scene,” Zubah asserted. 

“We later rushed him to Tony Clinic in Pipeline but he was pronounced dead upon arrival.”

Zubah said the pastor death then sparked fury amongst the youth who then went on the rampage to retaliate. 

The retaliation resulted in the death of the five suspected drug users as the attack went on from Sunday, August 4 to Monday morning, August 5.

Some of the corpses have been removed from the market, eyewitnesses have said, but it is unclear who removed them.

Zubah said two of the suspected drug users were mauled to death by the angry crowd carrying stones and clubs in the Coalfield Market in Redlight, two were killed in the Wood Camp Community and the 72nd Community and the third in the Duport Road Community.

“Police were on the scene to put the situation under control, but the angry crowd defied them and moved on to look for criminals and at the same time began burning their hideouts within various places in Redlight and other surroundings,” Zubah explained.

“It was very terrible, people were running all over and Zogos were running for their lives. They have gone into hiding since Sunday evening.”

He said the suspected criminals made attempts to regroup but they were chased by an angry crowd on Monday morning.

“These guys always stay in shacks and those who are chasing them know most of the places they can gather, these are the areas they are burning down.”

On Thursday, August 5, a man in his late 20s was discovered dead in Zubah Town, Paynesville. According to eyewitnesses, the deceased was a resident of the community and one of the alleged drug users, who often harass residents.

Some residents of Zubah Town, who had gathered on the crime scene, expressed no regret as they recalled several versions of his alleged criminal activities when he was alive. 

“These guys are terrible. They are in the habit of terrorizing innocent people. When they grab you at night, they will demand everything including your phones and whatever you have on you. When you dare resist, that’s your [dead] body they see,” explains Theo Neor, a resident.  

When contacted, Liberia National Police Spokesman Moses Carter told FPA that 12 persons have been arrested so far in connection to the incident and are undergoing investigation.

Carter said five persons were severely injured, adding that the LNP has no information of any death from the riot.

“The five persons were taken to a nearby clinic for treatment, but information about their death is not to our knowledge,” Carter said.

“The 12 persons who were arrested will be forwarded to court. They told us that this has been happening for a long time and they were tired with the act, so this led them to react in such a manner.”

At the same time, Carter said the Community Service Sector of the LNP has been alerted to do more community policing in the areas where the incident occurred to avoid reoccurrence.

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