The Battle for the Control of Ganta

By C. Y. Kwanue

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 23, 2003

As fighting continues between government forces and the forces of the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), for the control of the once bustling town of Ganta in Nimba County, the latter have resorted to arson attacks by setting ablaze key buildings and privately-owned residential houses, but the town remains divided.

According to our Nimba County Bureau Chief who took advantage of a lull in the fighting on Sunday, and ventured in the city, observed that among structures affected by the indiscriminate burning action carried out by the LURD fighters are: the classical Ma-Zlan Hotel, the home of Dr. Saye Parwon and the house of Gen. Samuel Gonkarnue Varney(AFL Deputy COS), in the eastern LPMC suburb of town.

Other houses gutted down as a result of the rebels systematic campaign of destroying Ganta are, the campus of the Rainbow High School; the home of former Health Minister Martha Sendolo Belleh, and the Jomel Motel among several houses in the vicinity of the Liberia Inland Church in the northwestern suburb of Blega-pa Community.

Also, the once imposing stone building at the Methodist Mission which hosted the US Ambassador to Liberia, John Blaney III during his last visit here, and the residence of the McMiller Allister United Methodist Church’s pastor, at the Methodist Mission, north of Ganta among other houses have also been affected.

Moreover, in the Deakermein Community, the rebels have among other places, burnt down the homes of two Nimba prominent citizens, Messrs Boma Kwabia and Alfred Yeeded respectively.

At the same time, several buildings including stores, shops and leading entertainment centers including the famous Kingta Motel in the commercial part of the town have all been burnt by the dissidents. Also, the Customs Post at the west bank of the St. John river has been completely razed to the ground.

Our correspondent said, up to the time he had to leave around 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, dark clouds of smoke was hanging in the Ganta sky from more houses which were burning apparently in the city center.

However, commenting on the fighting itself, General-in-Charge Benjamin Diah Yeaten said, the rebels are receiving fresh supplies from neighboring Guinea, and even rockets have been fired on government forces position in the eastern end of the town from the Guinean army station near the common border.

General Yeaten attributed the delay of government forces to fully liberate Ganta from the dissidents to the lack of real munition due to the arms embargo and the sanction regime on the country.

Interestingly, Gen, Yeaten said, while it is true that his soldiers are in high spirit for the liberation of Ganta, the rebels have resorted to using some of their captives as human shields, for which he has had to caution the soldiers to exercise great care.

He then commended the hundreds of volunteer fighters including the single-barrel group otherwise named and styled as the "Asakaba". However, he called on them to remain committed to the cause of the defense of their county from the hands of the enemy forces.

He then reminded them that in spite of the arms embargo and the sanctions, government forces will soon receive arms supplies in order to flush out the enemy forces, who are bent on burning the entire town.

How soon the citizens should expect to return to their burnt out homes and begin the process of reconstruction, remains the unanswered question as Gen. Yeaten could not put time frame on when the final attack on the enemy forces will

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.