By Sorie Sudan Sesay, Freetown.
Police this evening confirmed that live bullets were fired on the convoy of the leaders of the All People’s Congress (APC)Ernest Bai Koroma(photo) and the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) Charles Francis Margai, who were on a campaign tour in Kenema, eastern Sierra Leone.
Two of Koroma’s personal jeep vehicles were badly damaged – one of them had its front tire punctured as a result of the firing and is currently at the Kenema police station as exhibit, while the windscreen of the other was damaged.
Both leaders managed to escape through the help of IMATT military personnel who escorted them out of the township. In fact one of the IMATT vehicles which helped to rescue the APC convoy had its windscreen damaged.
The police could not confirm who fired the live shots but admitted that they were forced to fire teargas to disperse the desperate crowds who were bent on causing damage on Koroma and his team.
The convoy was coming from Segbwema where they were also forced to cut short their campaign tour and make a u-turn to Kenema.
On entering Kenema, according to the PMDC spokesman Mohamed Bangura, the police told them they could not guarantee them security forcing the APC men to call in for military and IMATT personnel for securiry.
This latest incident came barely three days to reports of violent attacks on northern businessmen in the township forcing some of them to flee the area because of insecurity.
Ernest and Margai later left for the southern township of Bo where they were also brutally attacked. But the attackers this time met stiff resistance from PMDC and APC supporters who engaged them in a fierce battle plunging the entire township in confusion and commotion.
The Sahara hotel where Margai and Ernest lodged was attacked this morning and police had to be immediately called in who reportedly fired teargas to disperse the attackers.
The residence of Sidique Janneh, the PMDC official who was suspended by his party for insubordination was ransacked.
Calm has however returned to the township but that was after the convoy had left for Taiama.
Meanwhile Ernest and his new political ally of the PMDC Charles Francis Margai, received a massive welcome back in Freetown today.
Koroma and Margai stood inside two jeeps and were driven across the city from the provinces.
Their arrival was greeted with a huge surge of people, mostly their supporters who came out to find out whether their leaders were hurt. The two leaders waved to their supporters, beaming with smiles.
Traffic came to a stand still as supporters ran after the convoy right on to the APC headquarters on Hannah Benka Coker Street, where the leaders briefly addressed their supporters.
The SLPP has not yet reacted on the recent spate of violence in the east of the country in which its supporters are alleged to play a prominent role. The party’s spokesman, Victor Reider, is also unavailable for comments.