By Melissa Chea-Annan
An alleged shooting by some officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) assigned in Grand kru County has left a 38-year-old Jayteh Sonpon wounded.
An eyewitness told the INQUIRER on Wednesday that the victim, Sonpon was shot in the stomach by an ERU officer because he, (Sonpon) and his friends tried to prevent some miners from entering the forest of DioWappi in Jloh Statutory District, Grand kru County.
According to the eyewitness, Sonpon and his friends who are residents of that community insisted that it was illegal to carry out mining in the forest and so they prevented the miners from carrying out their work.
The eyewitness alleged further that the continuous resistance from the residents provoked their boss, Agent Wiah Toe of the Bafforwin Mining Agency and he immediately pleaded for the intervention of the ERU Officers to arrest the situation.
Accordingly, the ERU officers on the other hand approached the scene and demanded that the residents vacate the premises to enable the miners execute their duties, but the residents refused and started throwing stones at the miners.
The eyewitness said the resistance by the residents left the ERU officers with no option and so they started shooting sporadically, thereby leaving Sonpon wounded in his stomach. It was reported that Sonpon is currently seeking medication at the Rally Town Hospital in the County.
When contacted via cell phone, the Mining Agent, Wiah Toe denied the allegations on ground that he has no authority to order for ERU officers.
The Liberia National Police spokesperson, Sam Collins, confirmed the story but denied allegation that the ERU officers carried out shooting in the area. According to him the illegal miners who were in possession of single barrel guns opened fire on the ERU officers, and in the process, one of the officers (name withheld) went missing.
He insisted that the ERU officers went on the scene to put a halt to the disorderly conduct that erupted between the miners and residents. “We didn’t use weapons and we didn’t shoot anyone. It is the right of the officers to move in whenever there is disorderly conduct,” Spokesperson Collins maintained.