A group of unknown men said to be from Zolowee, a town in the proximity of ArcelorMittal’s concession area, attacked ArcelorMittal’s Tokadeh Mines in Yekepa, Nimba County, early Friday.
The gang was armed with single-barrel guns and pistols and was also seen carrying machetes.
An ArcelorMittal statement issued today confirmed that one employee was shot and wounded during the attack but is said to be in stable condition.
The gang also ransacked and damaged the Crusher Plant Control Room, a vehicle, and a large welding machine.
Our reporter who visited the scene said the attack on AML’s mine in Tokadeh mine has caused panic among workers and residents who are demanding the national government provide security in the area.
The Liberia National Police ERU assigned in Yekepa, with support from the Gbarnga, Bong County, swiftly responded, apprehended 8 suspects, and restored calm to the Mines.
The report says the Tokadeh and Gangra Mines appear to be closed.
The AML statement strongly condemned the attack and said it has contacted the Ministries of Justice and Mines and Energy for a full investigation into the attack on its operations and the prosecution of those involved.
Said the statement: “ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) can confirm that on 28 July 2023, its Tokadeh Mines were attacked by a group of unknown individuals bearing arms and machetes”.
“AML regrets to report that one of its employees was shot and wounded. Their condition remains stable, and they will continue to be closely monitored by the company’s doctors”.
It added, “AML strongly condemns violence of any kind to its staff members and will continue to work to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its employees remain its top priority”.
Sources say that a well-established and organized gang of criminal syndicates has been involved in the regular theft of diesel fuel and spare parts from the AML mines.
The incident began shortly after police executed a search warrant and discovered a warehouse in Zolowee, stocked with fuel and caterpillar spare parts, apparently stolen from AML.
The company recently started adding coloring to its fuel to discourage theft.
A day earlier, several suspects were arrested, but opened fire on police officers in the town of Zolowee, one police officer was said to have sustained injuries.
Eyewitnesses say the criminals then severely beat up SEGAL security officers assigned to the area and damaged their vehicles.
The Ministry of Justice and the LNP have not commented on the incident up to press time.