The Jacob Town Crisis - How It All Happened?
November 3, 2004
Monrovia, Liberia’s capital has witnessed the worst of violence in recent days, despite the presence of United Nations peacekeepers in the country.
The sustained hostilities have been characterized by the burning of worship centers, private properties including school buildings by rival groups, who are assumed sympathizers of both Christian and Muslim religions.
The violence, which engulfed Monrovia over the weekend, started last Thursday lurked heated conflict over land ownership.
An eyewitness told our reporter that LURD embattled Chairman Sekou Damate Conneh masterminded the recent Monrovia violence. According to the eyewitness Abu Toure, Mr. Conneh, before the LURD aggression against the Taylor regime, engaged a land from a resident of Paynesville against which he is said to have paid 95% of the cost but could not finalize payment until the war escalated.
Mr. Toure further explained that few days ago, Mr. Conneh went to his landlord and completed payment of his land but realized that part of his land was being occupied by some people, something which he accordingly denounced thereby demanding his client that within two hours those structures erected on his secured land be removed or else…
Consequently, Mr. Toure said Mr. Conneh later reappeared after the two- hour ultimatum with a gang of LURD loyalists whom he commanded not to kill or loot but that they should assemble all properties in those structures including a church house and therewith breakdown those structures a command which the eyewitness said was executed to the letter.
According to him, those who live in the same environment became angry and immediately moved to Jacob Town mosque thus setting it ablaze. “That was the outburst of the widespread violence in Monrovia but it was not Muslim versus Christians conflict,” Mr. Toure narrated.
Indeed, the violence affected several churches along the Paynesville Somalia Drive including other private properties.
Like wildfire, the riot spread last Friday morning across Monrovia as smoke bellowed
the city when buildings, gas stations and residences were set ablaze in various communities by hooligans.
The riot coerced NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant to declare an immediate curfew in mid-morning hours on Friday and requested the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to intervene and bring the chaos to a halt.
In swift response, the UN SGSR to Liberia, Jacque Paul Klein, immediately ordered UNMIL personnel to provide maximum force to crush any resistance in connection with the violence. “Shoot and kill on sight” was Ambassador Klein’s command to his men on duty to gun down any one seen fermenting the chaos.
The presumed Muslim-Christian gangs revenge attacks, which also took place in Kakata, Margibi County, led to several deaths in Monrovia in Particular. In the Jacob Town area, which was described as the “troubled spot, the Ghanaian contingent of UNMIL effected more that a hundred arrests including huge cache of arms from the compound of one of LURD’s General Philip Kamara, following persistent calls by horrified residents that they were being terrorized by the gangs.