During Jubilations for Launch of DDRR
Grenade Blast Kills two, Injures Four
By: C.Y.Kwanue From Ganta
Two ex-combatants got killed instantly on Tuesday evening when a rocket-propelled grenade accidentally exploded whilst they and others were jubilating by brandishing their weapons over the launching of the DDRR program in Nimba County.
According to our Nimba Bureau Chief, four other fighters and a three-year old girl sustained severe injuries in the unfortunate incident that also ripped apart the roof and walls of the house wherein lived the victims, occurred in the Wuo’s Town suburb of Ganta.
Reacting to the situation, the UNMIL Bangladeshi contingent Sector-3 officers rushed on the scene and had three of the four injured, said to be in a “very critical condition”, flown on board a UN helicopter to Monrovia Tuesday night.
Among those killed instantly in the blast, according to a source, was one notorious ex-GOL general, only identified as “Gen. Satan”, and another ex-fighter, Saye Tompoe. The two have already been buried by family members who managed to gather the scattered pieces of their bodies.
Those flown to Monrovia on board the UN helicopter in critical conditions include Ms. Blessing Zuo, 22, who had gone in the area to visit her ex-combatant boy friend who was gearing up for disarmament the next day. Others are Baryogar Jackie, Andrew Kollie and the innocent child, Yah Garteh who received injuries from the shrapnel of the blast in her lower abdomen, a medical practitioner at the Ganta Hospital disclosed.
Meanwhile, the process of the disarmament which started in Nimba early Tuesday morning has brought together former militia ex-fighters from the various fighting units in the county.
The female ex-fighters under the banner of the Women Association of Fighting Forces(WAFF) were in their numbers when they disarmed to UNMIL, followed by Child Soldiers and then the Jungle Warriors who were disarmed.
Interestingly, the retired General in charge of the former ex-GOL militia in the county, Gen. Francis Menwon was among the first batch of ex-fighters to disarm on Tuesday.
Gen. Menwon who disarmed with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher to UNMIL Force Commander, Gen. Daniel Opande, used the occasion to call on Nimbaian ex-fighters to turn out en-masse and disarm totally with both their hearts and whatever arms in their possession.
According to a UN update release on the ongoing DDRR exercise in Nimba issued yesterday, more than 200 ex-GOL soldiers who fought for former president Charles Taylor surrendered their weapons to UN peacekeepers Monday on the first day of the launch of UNMIL’s latest disarmament and demobilization program in the country.
Launching the program in Nimba County, where Liberia’s prolonged civil war first began in 1989,UNMIL’s Force Commander, Lt. Gen Daniel Opande said the latest disarmament exercise was critical to “dispel the notion” that there were cross-border movements of weapons into neighboring Cote d’Ivoire. “Since Nimba County borders La Cote d’Ivoire, it is important for us to disarm the ex-combatants here,”he said.
“We have progressively moved with our disarmament plans and from Nimba we will branch to the northwest and southeast of the country. Once we have done that, we would have covered the whole country.”
Accompanying the Force Commander from Monrovia was Dr. Moses Jarbo, National Transitional Government of Liberia Coordinator on the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration(NCDDRR), who commended the Bangladeshi peacekeepers deployed in the area for ensuring the success of the disarmament program in Nimba County.”This has been a long anticipated stage for us. Disarmament in Nimba County is very important to the whole process and to citizens of the county, he said.
Brig Gen. F.M. Akbar, Commander of Sector III, maintained that Bangladeshi peacekeepers were in control of the operation, ensuring a peaceful process of disarmament. “We have been waiting for this day. We have made extensive work in preparation for the program, “he said.
Disarmament and demobilization also continued smoothly in other areas of the country. From the beginning of the DDRR process in December 2003 through 17 August 2004,a total of 66,440 combatants have been disarmed in Liberia.