Firsthand Police Report Highlights Severity of Armed Gang Attack on ArcelorMittal Facility far Greater than Earlier Reporter
Citizens in the surrounding towns and villages of ArcelorMittal’s Tokadeh Mines are still shocked by a recent violent armed gang attack on the mines.
Even some residents in the Nimba town of Zolowee are said to be living in fear over the exchange of gunfire between some citizens in the town and the Liberia National Police.
The situation involved a syndicate of gang thieves involved in fuel oil and spare parts theft and was caught by local security guards and the police.
As reported earlier, in the week of July 26, after police discovered a warehouse of stolen fuel oil and heavy machine spare parts, the criminals resorted to violence. They later regrouped to attack AML personnel and the local security with guns and machetes in daylight.
A situational report by the Liberia National Police highlights the severity of the incident as far more significant than what the public perceived earlier and what was announced by local dailies.
A copy of the report exclusively received from sources in the LNP shows how on July 28, 2023, at about 02:45hrs, Police Inspector Sampson Forbay the Formed Police Unit (FPU) commander in Yekepa, responsible for security at AML, called via phone that “criminals from Zolowee attacked Segal Security, damaged their vehicle and harmed the driver”.
The thieves had said that Segal Security obstructed their movement.
The report continued “Based upon a call for help, the FPU team responded and rescued the driver who sustained serious bodily injury and pursued the guys”
“The criminals went and emptied the fuel gallons in a house and parked the vehicle in front of the house. The officers barricaded the house up to the morning hours”.
After obtaining a search warrant from the magisterial court the following day, the court sheriff along with ArcelorMittal staff and police, searched.
After the police and sheriff completed the search, the police report says, citizens of Zolowee Town had set up roadblocks to prevent the AML staff, the Police, and the court sheriff from leaving.
“When the FPU went to remove the roadblocks, they came under heavy gunfire thereby jeopardizing the lives of the entire team”
“The officers were left with no alternative but to stop the threat posed to them and the entire teams. In the process one person got a Short and sustained a bullet wound in the right chest” the report said.
The injured citizen is said to be taking treatment at JFK Hospital
Police officer Varney J. Kromah of the Police Support Unit (PSU) lost two center-right fingers in the stifle and is treated at AML’s hospital in Yekepa.
What is more surprising is that Liberian National Police reports that a few hours after the team departed Zolowee Town, a group of men from the town, reconvened with guns and cutlasses.
At this time, they matched onto the ArcelorMittal Tokadeh Mines “and damaged properties and shot one AML employee in his leg and upper jaw”.
ArcelorMittal, a multinational steel manufacturing company and the biggest taxpayer in Liberia has been a victim of repeated violent attacks which resulted in the loss of assets valued at thousands of dollars.
Last month, a group of youths in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County staged a violent protest at the gate of ArcelorMittal’s concessional area by setting up roadblocks and bringing tires.
On July 3, 2020, and July 27, 2023, armed individuals attacked the Tokadeh mines, resulting in injuries to several employees and damage to company properties.
In July 2014, Liberian security forces struggled to break up a violent protest at ArcelorMittal iron ore mine in Nimba in response to protesters, who also fired guns and blocked entries to the mine, the company’s railroad and offices entered the mines and looted equipment and building materials near the, causing significant damage.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at that time described the damage done to Arcelor Mittal facilities in Nimba County as “more than an attack on a private company; rather they are attacks on the economy and the future of this country” and said Government will undertake the repair of the damaged; but the costs would be deducted from funds directly allocated for the development of Nimba County.