An unprecedented spree of coordinated armed robberies have plunged the provincial city of Gbarnga in central Liberia into complete panic with ordinary residents being placed under increasing fear in recent days.
The armed gangs are said to be equipped with locally made single barrel guns, reportedly produced in Guinea to carry out robbery into the homes of defenseless citizens in the city at night hours.
In recent days, the robbers reportedly executed well coordinated attacks in four strategic communities of Gbarnga. Areas affected include Jorkpenmue, Kokoyah Road, Franjoe and Bassa Community where several valuables and cash were stolen.
In an interview with our Bong County correspondent a victim of the robbery upsurge in Gbarnga lamented that he was attacked by three men, using single barrel guns and cutlasses when they burst into his Kokoyah road residence on Sunday July 31, 2011 at about 1:00am and threatened to kill him if he did not give them the money he had.
Prince Lepolu displaying bruises on his skin narrated he was severely flogged by his attackers when he refused to meet their demands. He indicated when the robbers realized he was not in possession of money in the house, they forcibly took away two mobile phones and escaped after they noticed that other residents of the community were now awake because of the noise from his plead for rescue.
The victim told reporters minutes following the departure of the robbers, that two police officers arrived on the scene and told him to report the case to the police charge of quarter in the morning since it was very late. Lepolu disappointingly said he did not report the case as requested by the police they arrived on the crime scene just few minutes after the criminals left.
Another armed robbery victim who is a well known businessman in the Jorkpanmue community of Gbarnga narrated that in the early hours of July 29, 2011, five men armed with single barrel guns broke into his house and opened fire at a very close range in an apparent attempt to take his life.
Jacob Vankpanah explaining his ordeal under trauma said when he heard the sound of the robbers on his door; he silently got up and informed his wife that he suspected criminals were attempting to open the door.
He indicated when the criminals noticed that he was in the process of opening his room door, they wasted no time in releasing the trigger of their gun and burst into the house.
The Gbarnga businessman, displaying two cartridges of the single barrel, said during the attack, he managed to seize them from the robbers when he chopped one of them with a cutlass purposely kept by the family for self-defense.
He disclosed that the armed gang forcibly took away LD50,000 from his wife along with an undisclosed amount of United States Dollars from their coffer before escaping with their wounded colleague who was bleeding profusely.
Meanwhile police authorities in Bong County have acknowledged the growing waves of criminal activities in the County particularly in Gbarnga.
Police Chief Superintendent Inspector Nelson Freeman told this paper that police in the county were seriously handicapped in combating crimes due to the lack of logistics to vigorously patrol isolated communities during the night hours.
Inspector Freeman indicated that the Bong County Police Detachment is without a vehicle and requisite equipment to effectively combat the arm roaming criminals in the city.
Responding to calls by some residents for the police to comb the entire Gbarnga area, he said there were plans to do so but quickly pointed out that the Police cannot patrol the city using motorcycle.
Due to the current wave of insecurity in Gbarnga, most businesses, especially entertainment centers close earlier than usual with the various streets being isolated as early as 8:00 PM.