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Reports are filtering in that residents at the Liberian border with Cote d’Ivoire are panicky after more than 13, 000 people recently fled their homes in southwestern Ivory Coast following attacks in which unidentified armed men killed at least 22 people, but Information Minister Lewis Brown Thursday said Liberian soldiers deployed at the common border are “doing well” and there is no problem there.
Frightened residents around the border town of Tai told this paper in an interview that they live in constant fear and panic, due to heavy security presence in the area and parts adjacent.
“Too many security people are here stopping us to move around. We cannot leave because there is nowhere else for us to go,” Moses Taye told this paper in a telephone interview.
“We are living in fear; we feel that the people can attack this place anytime. AFL soldiers are here but we do not trust them, they can do anything any time,” another villager said from Tai.
Ute Kollies, head of the U.N. humanitarian agency in Ivory Coast said his agency has recorded five attacks since the beginning of June, something that has promoted fears amongst civilians. She added that all homes have been destroyed in some villages.
United Nations peacekeepers and Ivorian soldiers are manning the other side of the common border, while Liberian soldiers are patrolling the densely forested Liberian side.
On 18 June, several armed men swooped on a camp near the village of Ponan, killing eight civilians leaving one man’s throat cut, Human Rights Watch says.
After several peace talks between both countries to harmonize the border crisis, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered the immediate deployment of Liberian troops along the border but the soldiers say their logistical demands were not met before their departure.
“As I speak to you, we are standing in the water. You know this is the first time we are deployed and things are not fine. They promised us good money to come here but gave us peanuts. This is unfair to us,” an officer of the AFL said to this writer in an interview from the border, but seeking strict anonimity.
Contacted for clarification on the claims, Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs, Mr. David Dahn, refused to comment, saying, it was the work of the Chairman on the House Committee for Defense, Rep. George Mulbah, who also refused to comment on the matter.
Recent attacks, which have claimed more than 40 lives and displaced thousands, highlight continued insecurity along the common border.