Worried top security hands have alerted this paper about weapons being infiltrated into the country as mercenaries return from troubled Cote d’Ivoire, leading to a rise in armed robberies over the past weeks.
Authoritative police sources said weapons infiltration has led to the rise in armed robberies, and that in Zwedru, 3 armed robberies were reported last week and 2 this week.
“This is unusual for a place like that. There is also a rise of armed robberies in Monrovia, but we have to send extra Emergency Response Unit (ERU) men to Zwedru,” the officer said.
In Gbarnga over the weekend, eyewitnesses spotted well-armed ERU holding about 8 men, believed to be retreating mercenaries, in handcuffs.
Police have confirmed that the suspects have been brought from Grand Gedeh County to Monrovia, and that one of their alleged accomplices has been arrested to locate the weapons.
The hidden weapons, police say, were infiltrated into the country via Maryland County and hidden on one of the islands near Monrovia.
Police say amongst the arrested suspects is a man called Prince Barclay, picked up on 13 May 2011.
Police said suspect Barclay informed them of the huge quantities of weapons and ammunition, hauled by mercenaries as they retreated from the Ivory Coast.
Police indicated that suspect Barclay told them that two men, identified only as Eric and Zarkpa, and said to be fishermen on the Cavalla River between Liberia and the Ivory Coast, helped to conceal the weapons.
Police said upon their search, they discovered that the weapons and ammunition had been moved to an unknown location.
“We have arrested in Toe Town 8 former fighters who have just returned from the Ivory Coast. They were bragging about how they killed people, looted properties, and came back into the country. They came with their weapons, but we have not found them since the borders are porous, a police chief, on condition of anonymity, said.
He said another batch of mercenaries were arrested in Maryland weeks ago, this time with some weapons, but that the judge released them on condition that there was no evidence they had killed anyone in the Ivory Coast.
He said when the police re-arrested them on the orders of the Ministry of Justice, the judge in Maryland Country charged the arresting police officers with contempt.
Contacted, UNMIL said they could not comment without specific incidents outside the realm of ‘rumours.’
One of the alleged mercenaries that officers of the National Security Agency (NSA) arrested last month and indicted for prosecution, in a statement, said many of his colleagues in the Ivory Coast had planned bringing back their weapons into the country on grounds that”anything can happen.”
Ivorian authorities, last week, said Liberian mercenaries, along with pro-Gbagbo forces, killed 120 civilians and fled across the border.