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Liberia police fire on protesters in Ebola quarantine

Agencies | Updated: 2014-08-21 09:19

Liberia police fire on protesters in Ebola quarantine

Liberian security forces stand in front of protesters after clashes at West Point neighbourhood in Monrovia, August 20, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

MONROVIA - Police in the Liberian capital fired live rounds and tear gas on Wednesday 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 oceanfront 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 the gunfire, though a young boy was seen with his leg largely severed just above the ankle.

Liberian authorities introduced a nationwide curfew on Tuesday and put the West Point neighbourhood under quarantine to curb the spread of the disease.

"The soldiers are using live rounds," said army spokesman Dessaline Allison, adding: "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 Organization said that the 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 90 percent of those it infects, is ravaging the three small West African states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It also has a toehold in Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy and most populous country.

Liberia - where the death toll is rising fastest - said its Ministry of Health warehouse had run out of rubber boots and bottles of hand sanitiser, 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 Aug 18, the World Health Organization said. Since it was discovered in remote southeastern Guinea in March, the overall death toll from the outbreak has reached 1,350 from a total of 2,473 cases.

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