Violent clashes between two ethnic groups broke out in the eastern city of Kenema on Tuesday 16th¬†November, 2010 and continued until late yesterday afternoon.
This was separately confirmed to the Awareness Times Newspaper by both the Local Unit Commander (LUC), Kenema Police Division, Aiah Komba and the eastern regional chairman of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Mohamed Vandi.
According to both sources, tensions heightened between the Mandingoes and Fullahs following the official declaration of the Mandingo candidate, Prof. Alpha Conde in Guineaís Sunday presidential run-off elections as the winner.¬†
Mohamed Vandi told the Awareness Times in a telephone interview that the violent clash stemmed out of provocation from rowdy Mandingo jubilant youths who instantaneously took to the streets after the announcement. ďThe jubilating Mandingoes intriguingly voiced out provocative languages against the Fullahs, and at Koroma Street it degenerated into an open confrontation when the Fullahs took offence,Ē said Mohamed, adding that the situation became so tense that the police had to intervene with teargas canisters and in the process arrested about thirty rioters as the retreating ones promised to regroup.
True to the rioters threat, clashes resumed in the morning hours of Wednesday that resulted to several people sustaining injuries. Normal business came to a standstill and residents were gripped by panic from the deadly clashes.¬† ďThis has added insult to the injury for the public who have not been able to access Fullah business shops since the announcement of the results in Guinea,Ē said Mohamed, adding that ďsince the results were announced early this week, the Fullahs have refused to open their shops for business.Ē
Unconfirmed sources said the Koroma Street residence of Fullah Chief, Kenda Sow, who is also a prominent businessman, was vandalized by the riotous celebrants.
The police boss in Kenema said they never took the miscreantsí threats to regroup for fresh attacks lightly so the police had to put the situation under control by all means.¬† ďThis resulted in the total condoning off of the city streets, especially Koroma Street and Hanga Road strengthened by mounting night patrols,Ē CSP Komba informed.
Following the second clash however, police have engaged elders and tribal authorities of the two ethnic groups in a dialogue in order to resolve the issue once and for all.
Several Sierra Leonean citizens have expressed grave concern over the unfortunate incident, and as to press time reports say the Fullahs are still refusing to open their shops.
¬© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.