PREPARING FOR CIVILIAN MURDERS - HOW MABAYLLA WAS TARGETED
September 3, 1997: On this day, the
ruling junta, the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil otherwise known as the
beasts met at State House in the very heart of the capital Freetown. As
usual, since they occupied that building, roads around were closed to
motorised and human traffic with both sectors forced to use Fort Street
and other diversions to get to their destinations.
It was an unusually
long meeting as residents affected will later tell, but whatever was on
the agenda was not made public and could have had those in the know
sworn to secrecy and on the pain of death should they leak details of
It was in the early
hours of the next day, Thursday September 4, 1997 that Freetown
residents were shown yet once again what the junta was capable of doing.
For during the
night of Wednesday 3rd and the early hours of Thursday, the people of
Mabaylla were subjected to a frightening and deadly barrage of fire and
explosions from mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and withering fire
from automatic rifles.
residents who managed to escape the initial volleys and expressed
surprise at seeing armed men in military fatigues and civilian attire
were ruthlessly mowed down. When the carnage ended, the junta was on the
national radio, the SLBS to tell residents that during the night,
Nigerian ECOMOG troops based across the estuary at Lungi had bombarded
and that "our people have been deliberately murdered by Nigeria troops".
Junta leader Johnny
Paul Koroma fired off
a letter to
the ECOWAS Committee of Five on Sierra Leone in which he wrote
night of Wednesday 3rd and the early hours of Thursday 4th
September, 1997, the Nigerian component of ECOMOG forces occupying
the Sierra Leone International Airport at Lungi, undertook intensive
and incessant bombardment of our capital city of Freetown, killing
in the process over fifty innocent and peaceful Sierra Leoneans and
wounding and maiming scores of others with thirty-seven (37) persons
still under intensive care. Your Excellencies, the people of Sierra
Leone are finding it impossible to understand this unprovoked,
dastardly and cruel act of what seems like cold-blooded murder of
dear relatives, friends, compatriots and associates. Whilst the
corpses of the victims were still awaiting burial, these same
Nigerian troops demonstrated their callousness, by launching more
missiles at the city seriously damaging the nation's only flour
mill. The bombings continue.
the dead were pregnant women, suckling mothers and their babies, old
men and women, and school children all residents of some of the
poorest districts of Freetown. Not a single soldier was killed or
wounded in this tragedy of callous and reckless misuse of military
Even before junta
spokesman Allieu Kamara went on state radio to announce that fifty
civilians had been killed with scores wounded, doubts were already doing
the rounds about the junta version of events. These doubts were
increased when TV pictures showing in gory details the corpses and the
dying as well as the gravely wounded did not appear to be from shells
hurled from Lungi, but wounds consistent with those inflicted by machine
gun fire, mortars and bombs from RPG's.
Indeed a medical
doctor who was shown on TV, explaining the nature of the wounds said
they "were consistent with injuries inflicted by bullets and other
With the junta now
exposed, the showing of the pictures was halted and when next shown, the
doctor's opinions had been duly removed!!!
Reconciliation Chairman and spiritual Head of the United Methodist
Church (UMC) in Sierra Leone Bishop Joseph Christian Humper has now
publicly confirmed what no one at the time could say publicly for fear
of being summarily executed.
That the junta
carried out the Mabaylla murders with the sole purpose of having the
international community put pressure on Nigeria to remove its troops
from the country.