MONROVIA, July 4 Liberia's security forces fired
shots in the air to break up a protest at an ArcelorMittal SA
iron ore plant northeast of the capital on Friday,
authorities and witnesses said.
The protestors, who also fired shots, blocked entries to the
mine, the company's railroad and offices. The company said in a
statement they also entered the mines and looted equipment and
building materials near the mine entrance, causing significant
One demonstrator, who declined to be named, said
ArcelorMittal had not fulfilled the terms of its concession
agreement with the Liberian governmenOt. The person added that
the company had not compensated local people for crops, nor had
it paid wages or renovated houses.
The Indian steel and mining conglomerate operates the plant
in Nimba County under a 25-year deal with the government.
"Ringleaders, including those who shot at the police, have
been arrested and are being brought to Monrovia for further
investigation and prosecution," the presidency said in a
The statement assured investors that the government would
protect their lives and property. It said police had restored
calm to the city of Yekepa where the mine is situated, following
the protest, which began on Thursday.
The West African state is recovering after a long civil war
that ended in 2003. ArcelorMittal, BHP and other companies have
moved into the country to tap iron ore reserves.
(Reporting by Alphonso Toweh and Clair MacDougall; Writing by
Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Jan Paschal)