14 injured as striking police run amuck in Togolese capital




Mark Huband in Abidjan

The Guardian, 26 March 1991

At least 14 people were injured in the Togolese capital of Lome yesterday when hundreds of heavily-armed police blocked streets and fired shots from fast-moving jeeps after their pay dispute turned into an occupation of key areas the city.

Witnesses said shooting broke out on Tuesday and continued yesterday. Hospital sources confirmed that at least 14 people were injured when fighting broke out between the striking police and civilians in Lome’s northern Klikame district.

The action was provoked when 500 recruits to the regular army were transferred to the police force, on the orders of the military president, Gnassingbe Eyadema. It is unclear why they were transferred, but diplomatic sources in Lome said yesterday they were angered by the government’s failure to pay up to eight months of benefits.

On Tuesday flight, the rebellious police occupied key ministries and forced employees out at gun-point. Yesterday they ransacked shops, bars and petrol stations and drunkenly fired shots into the air at checkpoints.

Later they seized vehicles from civilians and occupied Lome’s international airport. The airport was kept open by regular army soldiers, although the borders with Benin and Ghana were closed.


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