From AFP via Yahoo! News:
Liberia’s newly appointed Justice Minister Philip Banks on Thursday declared war against a soaring crime wave in the west African country battling to recover from decades of conflict and lawlessness.
“I have a message for all the criminals. Let them get ready for war. I am going to make sure that the police is well armed, and we will go after the criminals,” he said.
Liberia’s revamped police force started getting armed last December after the UN lifted an arms embargo imposed in 2003.
The first load of arms was donated byto enable the newly trained national police in the war-battered country to carry such weapons for the first time in three years.
The country’s former security forces were all disarmed and dissolved in 2003 under a peace accord that signaled the end of more than a decade of bloodshed in civil wars.
Banks, a renowned lawyer, vowed to lead night-time patrols in the country’s flash points.
Liberia’s largest cities have in recent months seen a noticeable increase in crimes, including armed robberies.
Armed bands, often made up of former fighters in the country’s two civil wars between 1989 and 2003, have been on a rampage inand other Liberian cities.
In a bid to curb the crime wave, the government is proposing a law to try to block people who commit certain crimes from being eligible for release on bail.
In April, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf shut down a city center cemetery that had become a hideout for criminals.
Admitting failure by the security forces to curb the rising crime, the government last year called on the capital city’s inhabitants to form vigilante groups to defend themselves against the criminals.
The Liberian National Police force, still in the process of restructuring, currently numbers around 2,500 and the majority of them do not carry fire arms.
Culled from Wired Service