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Liberian MP Seeks UN to Protect Firestone Plantation

(Akron/Tire Review – Deutsche Presse Agentur) A lawmaker in Liberia’s lower house of parliament has called on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to deploy troops on a plantation owned by Firestone Natural Rubber Co. to prevent its takeover by a criminal gang.

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A gang styling itself the "Bad Boys of Bomi County" recently threatened in a leaflet to occupy the plantation at Harbel, Liberia’s largest employer.

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Firestone provides up to 6,000 jobs in Liberia on the world’s largest natural rubber estate, according to its website. The plantation is owned and operated by Bridgestone Americas Holding.

The "boys" claim they number 500 and are fully armed.

The parliamentary house committee chairman on labor, Gbenimah Slopadoe, said workers on the plantation were living in fear and wanted the government to guarantee their safety.

At least five people have been killed and about 20 injured on the plantation during attacks by armed thieves known as "tapers" who steal the latex for sale on the black market.

According to press reports Friday, Firestone has threatened to shut down operations if criminal attacks on the plantation continue

Meanwhile, UNMIL said Operation Sweeping Wave launched recently to combat the wave of armed robberies by the Isaakaba Boys gang in Monrovia was gaining momentum.

A spokesman for the mission was quoted by press reports Friday as saying that the security situation in the war-ravaged country is under control.

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