Unknown Person Kills Member of U.S. Military Assessment Mission to Liberia

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 26, 2004

The Liberia National Police in conjunction with the International Police of the United Nations Military Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is investigating circumstances surrounding the killing of a top brass of the American military assessment mission currently visiting Liberia.

Up to press time, the identity of the victim remains unknown as authority of the United States Embassy in Monrovia and the Liberia National police continue to remain tight lip on the situation. Similarly, the office of the Chairman of the National Transitional government of Liberia (NTGL) Charles Gyude Bryant is not commenting.

But current information gathered at the Mamba Point Hotel where the victim met his untimely demise on Monday night, 24 May, revealed that the U.S. military top brass was attacked and stabled with an unidentified object by an unknown person. The identity of the killer is yet to be established. Both international and local police have started a massive search for the culprit. The incident occurred in the victim’s Mamba Point Hotel room.

The Mamba Point Hotel is located in the Diplomatic enclave of Mamba Point within the vicinity of the United States embassy in the Liberian capital, Monrovia. The Mamba Point Hotel is the leading hotel among dozens of hotels in the country and has been host to hundreds of travelers visiting the country.

During the throes of LURD’s onslaught on Monrovia and its surroundings, the Mamba Point Hotel served as a safe haven for international and foreign journalists who were in Monrovia to cover the devastating civil war.

According to report, the victim was a member of the U.S. Military Assessment Mission to Liberia to restructure the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), which has been dormant for the past 14-year. The U.S. Military Assessment Mission is headed by Col. James T. Murtha of the U.S. Marine based at the European command. Other members of the assessment mission comprised personnel of the logistical Department of Pentagon, Defense and State Departments. The team has been in the country for about a week.

When contacted, the manager of the Mamba Point Hotel refused to speak to local journalists on the incident but insider at the hotel who insisted on anonymity alleged that the killer forcibly entered the victim’s bedroom through the ceiling before stabbing the victim several times. The Killer escaped from the hotel unnoticed with several unspecified items and cash.

According to the insider, before the U.S. military top brass was killed, the killer forced his way into another bedroom and put the occupant of the room at gunpoint and demanded that the occupant who was a lady surrounded all her funds and other items to him, something which the insider said the lady did. The insider however refused to give the identity of the lady involved for security reason. Claims by the insider have not been verified.

Meanwhile, several travelers and others who were residing at the Mamba Point Hotel relocated themselves to other hotels around Monrovia - fear for their lives.

In a frustrating expression, a female employee of the Mamba Point Hotel said that the incident will negatively impact the operations of the hotel, indicating that the killing of the U.S. military personnel has instilled fears in travelers who were residing at the hotel when the situation occurred.

In recent time, this is the first of its kind for a person to be killed in a hotel in Monrovia and its environs. But many persons spoken to want UNMIL to tighten security at all hotels and entertainment centers as well as private and government buildings.

We will provide you with more details from Monrovia as the situation unfolds. The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia is scheduled to have a news conference regarding the death of the U.S. military personnel but the time and date have not been announced.