Wednesday, June 3, 2015

the last book I ever read (American Warlord by Johnny Dwyer, excerpt five)

from American Warlord: A True Story by Johnny Dwyer:

Not long afterward, in early July 1990, the war arrived in Monrovia, tearing at the very fabric of Liberian society. Thousands of refugees streamed out of the city to avoid the fighting. The civilians who remained found themselves caught between the two factions, Prince Johnson’s INPFL approaching the city from the north, Taylor’s NPFL from the south, and Doe’s ragged and hunted government force caught in between. Effectively under siege, the city became host to a humanitarian crisis. There was little food or protection from the fighting; Doe’s control over the capital—and country—shrank to a few blocks surrounding the Executive Mansion.

That month several hundred civilians sought refuge in St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, a large chapel along Monrovia’s main thoroughfare. The church, a short drive from the Executive Mansion, is located directly across the street from a popular hotel. According to witnesses, soldiers loyal to Doe entered the church’s compound and set upon the refugees with knives and machetes, then eventually opened fire into the crowd. While exact numbers of the dead are unverifiable, the U.S. embassy reported immediately afterward that “the 186 persons killed in the massacre at the Lutheran Church remain where they fell. After six days, the bodies can no longer be moved, and MSF [Médecins sans Frontiéres, Doctors Without Borders] Belgian doctors hope to find means to blanket the place with a caustic solution or to burn the bodies which would probably entail burning the church itself.

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