Liberia: ‘We Couldn’t Get Out’ – Telia Urey On How She Escaped Death in District 15 Attack
Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
Monrovia – Ms. Telia Urey, candidate in the disputed District No. 15 Representatives elections is speaking out for the first time since a bloody attack Saturday which led to the damage of her bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser and injuries to she and several of her supporters who had gone to visit the headquarters of another candidate in the recently held elections.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica Saturday, Ms. Urey explained she and some members of her campaign team were in a meeting with Kelvin Bayoh’s team when the attack commenced.
“I went to meet Kelvin Bayoh’s campaign team at their campaign office, which has been the late Representative Adolph Lawrence’s office since 201. While in the meeting we heard noise outside and then rocks on the roof. Then through the windows and this went on.”
“They completely damaged the roof of the building. At the end, they even brought gas to burn the place down. When I smelled the gas, I didn’t think we were going to make it.”Ms. Telia Urey, Candidate, Disputed District No. 15 Elections
Ms. Urey said because there was only one way out of the building, she and her supporters as well as those of Mr. Bayoh were trapped in the building. “We couldn’t get out because there was only one way out, which is where the attackers were.”
Ms. Urey says the police arrived after 20 minutes and did nothing- similar to what happened in June when she came under a similar attack from supporters of her rival, Abu Kamara.
‘Didn’t Think We Would Make It’
“We made rescue calls all over to no avail since they blocked the road. Besides the few men who were trying to defend us, we were stuck inside for over an hour and a half,” the candidate explained.
Ms. Urey said she and her team made several attempts to leave the office but it was just impossible, although she laments that the police were standing right there.
She explained that one of the attackers even got in the building with a knife and almost stabbed her. “They completely damaged the roof of the building. At the end, they even brought gas to burn the place down. When I smelled the gas, I didn’t think we were going to make it.”
Ms. Urey said a man called Mr. Johnson made it inside after Senator Nyonblee Karnga(Liberty Party, Grand Bassa) who was trying to find out what was going on, asked she and her supporters to hold on while he tried to go out and get some help.
Ms. Urey said the Police 105 was outside at this point. “People asked 105 to bring his car down into the garage to evacuate me out of there but he refused. Mr. Johnson came in with his friend’s car and they built a shield around me for me to get in the car. My leg is injured. 15 other people are injured. 12 were taken to the hospital.”
Ms. Urey further explained that her driver who was in her car when the incident started had to flee as one of the attackers burst the back window.
“One of the guys jumped through the window and attacked the driver but the driver pulled off, driving with one hand and fighting with the other and that’s how he got into the first crash. He(the driver) escaped the crash and like you saw in the video starts to speed faster to avoid being hurt and then makes the final crash.”
Police: Action ‘Counterproductive to Peace’
In a statement late Saturday, H. Moses Carter, Sr., Chief Press & Public Affairs at the Liberia National Police said the LNP condemned in the strongest term violence which broke out in District No. 15 between what he described as supporters believed to be of the Coalition for Democratic Change candidate, Abu Kamara and supporters believed to be of the Opposition Collaborating Political Parties candidate, Telia Urey.
“The LNP views such action as counterproductive to the peace and stability of the state. The contingent of Police who firstly responded to the scene was unable to arrest violent actors. When reinforcements arrived, the alleged perpetrators had absconded.” The statement said.
Probe Launched, Police Says
In view of this, Carter says the LNP has launched an investigation into the violence. “Members of the public, especially residents of District #15 are urged to assist with any useful information including videos and pictorials to ensure that those responsible are made to face the full weight of the law.
The Public can be assured that violent actors in today’s violence will be made to face the full weight of the law.”
Ms. Urey’s version contradicts that of the ruling CDC party chair Mulbah Morlu who said in a Facebook post Saturday that Ms. Urey was playing a victim. “The Ureys provocative action to relocate their party office to almost the doorpost of Abu, explains the violence; as residents advised they remain at their original office, they hauled rocks in a pickup and began stoning Kamara’s yard. The Ureys must stop playing victim after throwing stones,” Mr. Morlu averred.
This is the second time in recent weeks that violence has hit the district. On June 10, at least one person was injured and two others flogged following a political violence in run-up to the District No. 15 race. The incident in the Blamo Town community, Logan Town, reportedly left supporters of Ms. Urey’s team seriously injured.
The National Election Commission last week announced a re-run of the elections at six polling places in the district after an election dispute hearing in which Urey claimed and proved electoral fraud. The ruling CDC has said that the Elections Commission’s decision was influenced, hence, they’ll boycott the re-run.