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NPFL Rebels Massacred 50 in Prafar, Sinoe County Survivors Recount Experiences

March 13, 2008

GREENVILLE (TRC)?Chilling accounts of the massacre in 1990 of 50 inhabitants of the town of Prafar, Sinoe County have been recounted by survivors to commissioners of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

According to survivors, on August 1, 1990 rebels of Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rounded up all inhabitants of Prafar Town and ordered them to march to a junction to meet their commander, where they were subsequently massacred.

Seventeen years later the killings Tuesday became the focus of the ongoing hearings of the TRC in rural Liberia, which is Liberia's way of trying to make amends for the horrors of the country from 1979 to 2003. Now full disclosures of what became known as the Prafar Massacre are coming to light.

Testifying at ongoing TRC Public Hearings at the Greenville City Hall, James Tarlu, general town chief said after NPFL rebels captured the town on the evening of August 1, they called the inhabitants out of their homes and separated the males from the females and children before marching all of them to a junction.

At the junction, Mr. Tarlu explained, the rebels formed two columns of people, the males on one side and the females and children on the other side. "After they separated us from our wives and children, they ordered us to lie down flat on the ground before their commander, General Noriega, ordered them to open fire on us."

He explained that the firing lasted for several minutes until there was complete silence at the scene of the killings. Tarlue said he escaped the massacre when he pretended to be dead adding that, after the rebels left he fled into the nearby forest. He said the rebels accused the town's inhabitants of being members of the Krahn ethnic group. "We were surprised because majority of us in the town are Sarpos but they insisted that we are all Krahns."

Another survivor, Alexander Tarlue told TRC commissioners that after the massacre, the fighters returned to the town and set all the houses ablaze. He added that all of the houses were razed to the ground before the fighters led the women and children to the nearby town, Weah Town, where they held them captives.

Alexander explained that during the arson attack on the town, the fighters shot and killed a pregnant woman who tried to escape their onslaught. He said after the fighters left the scene of the killings, he counted about 50 dead bodies of the town's inhabitants.

The TRC is an independent body set up to investigate the root causes of the Liberian crisis, document human rights violations, review the history of Liberia, and put all human rights abuses that occurred during the period from 1979 to 2003 on record. The TRC mandate is to also identify victims and perpetrators and make recommendations on amnesty, prosecution and reparation.

The public hearings are being held under the theme: "Confronting Our Difficult Past for a Better Future."

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