Unrest in Gabon over child kidnappings rumours

2020-01-24 21:14
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Protesters blocked roads and burned tyres in Gabon's capital Libreville on Friday, an AFP reporter said, as rumours circulated of a wave of child abductions, dismissed as untrue by the authorities.

The first incidents were reported early Friday, when residents in the PK7 district blocked off one of the city's main traffic arteries, setting fire to trash cans and tyres. The unrest spread to other districts later in the day.

In the PK9 district, security forces barricaded themselves inside the police station.

"We went to look for a man who was being lynched by the population, and we transported him to the military hospital," an officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

In some areas, traffic had been brought to a complete standstill as impromptu roadblocks were set up "to make sure that no one was hiding children in their cars," one local resident said.

But presidency spokesman, Jessye Ella Ekogha, denied that there had been a wave of kidnappings.

"We understand people's fears, but they are being fanned by false information circulating on the internet," he told a news conference.

Rumours of a series of child abductions in Gabon have been rife on social media following the disappearance on January 12 of a three-year-old boy named Rinaldi in a village in the north.

An investigation is currently under way, Ekogha said, but he insisted that in recent weeks "only one complaint has been filed for a kidnapping case", that of the parents of "little Rinaldi".

Read more on:    gabon  |  west africa
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