Liberian police are investigating the killing of at least 12 farm workers in a land dispute over the weekend in a remote southern part of the country. They had been thrown into a river after being shot and hacked to death, Police Director Beatrice Munah Sieh said. The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Liberia says nearly 50 people are feared to have been killed. He said the farmland on which the attack took place is claimed by a prominent ex-rebel and a senator.

Liberia is recovering from a 14-year civil war which ended in 2003. Our correspondent says many areas were abandoned during the war and since the end of the conflict land disputes have become common.

 

Machetes
Ms Sieh said that divers had so far recovered 12 bodies from Farmington River near the farm about 55km (35 miles) south of the capital, Monrovia. Our reporter says the victims had been working for former rebel spokesman Charles Bennie – preparing the land for planting.

One of those who escaped, Tidoe Monden, said the shooting started on Saturday morning after they had been working for three hours. We just saw suppressive gunfire from all directions,” he told the BBC. Mr Monden said that he escaped injury because he had just left the group to get food for his colleagues.

“I saw the men shooting with three AK-47 rifles and three single-barrel shotguns.”

The attackers then used workers’ machetes to “finish some of the wounded”, he said. Senator Roland Kaine has denied any knowledge of the attack. Ms Sieh told reporters in Monrovia that no arrests had been made and the police’s focus at the moment was on the rescue effort. ome of the bodies had been taken to the provincial capital of Kakata, she said.