Liberia’s neighbor – La Cote d’Ivoire, has become the latest to be struck by Islamist Militants.On Sunday, March 13, 2016, the militants attacked a beach in the Ivorian resort town of Grand Bassam – some 40km or 25 miles from the capital, Abidjan, killing 18 persons, including foreign nationals.
The Islamist attackers, wearing balaclavas and armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades, stormed the beach at lunch time. Grand Bassam is the country’s former capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site, packed with French colonial architecture, and it is a popular weekend destination for Ivorians and foreign nationals.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), in a statement on social media, claimed responsibility of the attack. The group had previously claimed responsibility for the recent attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Bamako, Mali.
The latest Ivorian terrorist attack is, indeed, a genuine cause for fear among all Liberians. La Cote d’Ivoire is just next door, with porous borders with our country, whose security network may not be as effective, efficient and vigilant as we expect.
Perhaps, this may have been why Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, last November, petitioned the Government of Liberia to capacitate and strengthen our national security apparatus at all levels in the wake of the advancing threats of terrorism on West Africa.
Again following Sunday’s terrorist attack in La Cote d’Ivoire, Cllr. Brumskine reiterated the same call, placing emphasis on the absolute ban on visas being issued at Roberts International Airport or RIA to ensure due vetting for anyone arriving in Liberia, nobody entering Liberia on a visitor’s visa must have his/her stay extended beyond the original period granted.
While the aforementioned petition may be well directed as far as the country’s national security is concerned, it also behooves the Government of Liberia to ensure that all other measures are in place at our borders and ports of entry, recreation/amusement centers, as well as commercial districts, among others, against all forms of terrorism.
For effective and efficient networking across the country and not only in Monrovia, the issues of logistics and salaries and benefits must be considered. Moreover, collaboration and cooperation with ordinary citizens and communities must be truly forged as a way enhancing the operations of our national security apparatus in the interest of our national security.
We must be currently cognizant of the fact that prevention is better than cure; and now is the time that we become more proactive in our efforts against the advancing terrorists.