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Catholic nun heads Liberia shooting probe

2011-11-15 17:30

Monrovia - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has appointed a nun to head the probe into a deadly shooting at an opposition protest on the eve of a bitterly disputed election, the presidency said on Tuesday.

Sister Mary Laurene Browne, 68, a university teacher, will lead the independent commission of enquiry into deadly clashes between opposition supporters and police on November 7.

Browne is the president of the Catholic Stella Maris Polytechnic and also sits on the board of trustees of the University of Monrovia.

"We cannot be clearer: All those found to have broken the law will be brought to justice," Sirleaf said in a statement.

The presidency said one person was killed, however the United Nations Mission in Liberia has said there were two deaths.

At least six people with bullet wounds, mostly to their legs, were admitted to a Liberian hospital, a medical source told AFP.

The opposition Congress for Democratic Change's failed presidential candidate Winston Tubman earlier denounced the commission as full of "partisans and friends of the president".

"I think the opposition should wait for us to probe the incident and submit our findings and then based on what we have done they can judge us," Browne told AFP.

UN wrestled cop

Tubman had called the opposition rally on the eve of the election in support of his poll boycott.

Riot police struggled to contain the angry protesters who surged onto the street to hold an unauthorised march, throwing stones, and panic quickly broke out, with police firing teargas and later live bullets into the crowd.

A police officer who was not in riot gear had to be wrestled down by UN peacekeepers as he fired his pistol into the air.

A source close to the investigation said footage of the incident showed a man in plain clothes entering CDC headquarters from the side of the compound closest to Sirleaf's residence, less than half a mile away, and firing on the crowd.

Tubman has demanded the election, which handed Sirleaf a landslide victory according to provisional results, be annulled and re-run. Final results were to be announced later on Tuesday.

The poll dispute has set the fragile nation on edge eight years after the end of a 14-year war which left some 250 000 dead.