Police fire on crowd in Liberian Ebola quarantine sector
Police in the Liberian capital Monrovia fired live rounds and tear gas yesterday to disperse a stone-throwing crowd trying to break an Ebola quarantine imposed on their neighbourhood, as the death toll from the epidemic in West Africa hit 1,350.
In the sprawling ocean-front West Point neighbourhood of Monrovia, at least four people were injured in clashes with security forces, witnesses said.
It was unclear whether anyone was wounded by gunfire, though a press photographer saw a young boy with his leg almost severed above the ankle.
"The soldiers are using live rounds," said army spokesman Dessaline Allison. "The soldiers applied the rules of engagement. They did not fire on peaceful citizens. There will be medical reports if (an injury) was from bullet wounds."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that countries hit by the worst-ever outbreak of the deadly virus were beginning to suffer shortages of fuel, food and basic supplies after shipping companies and airlines suspended services to the region.
The epidemic of the hemorrhagic fever, which can kill up to 90pc of those it infects, is ravaging the three small West African states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and also has a toehold in Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy.
Liberia - where the death toll is rising fastest - said it had run out of rubber boots and hand sanitiser bottles, essential for preventing the spread of the disease.
Still struggling to recover from a devastating 1989-2003 civil war, Liberia recorded 95 deaths in the two days to Monday, the WHO said.
The overall death toll from the Ebola outbreak has reached 1,350 from a total of 2,473 cases.
Liberian authorities introduced a nationwide curfew on Tuesday and put the teeming West Point neighbourhood under quarantine to curb the spread of the disease.
Witnesses said clashes started after security forces blocked roads to West Point early yesterday with tables, chairs and barbed wire. Security forces came in to escort the local commissioner out of the neighbourhood, they said.
Residents said they were given no warning of the blockade, which prevented them from getting to work or buying food.
"We just saw it (the blockade) this morning. We came out and we couldn't go anywhere," Barry (45), a resident who works as a money changer, said.