Seven years ago today, hell broke loose in Freetown. Some 28 persons were killed and many others wounded when Revolutionary United Front fighters fired automatic weapons and at least one Rocket-Propelled Grenade into a crowd of demonstrators outside the residence of RUF leader Foday Sankoh.
The shooting began after an estimated 15,000 people stormed the residence of Sankoh to put pressure on him to accept the peace process and release hundreds of UN peacekeepers his fighters had taken hostage.
A reporter of this press who was in the thick of the demonstration, said the Nigerian UN peacekeepers fired a shot in the air to disperse the crowd as they were being over powered. Some of the demonstrators were hurling stones and bricks at Sankoh’s home. He said the RUF then opened fire on the crowd, killing and wounding several people.
The shooting lasted for about five minutes, even though some reports said later that sporadic firing continued later.
The demonstrators were mainly civil society groups and parliamentarians.
This was what Foday Sankoh told the BBC at the time: “They are provoking [the] situation, provoking us, and it’s unacceptable…This is not the practice of democracy, where you can attack the premises of a man you call a peace maker.”
Parliamentarians, who organized the demonstration, put the blame on the RUF.