Violence errupts in Ebola quarantine zone as deaths surge

Violence erupted in an Ebola quarantine zone in Liberia’s capital Wednesday when soldiers opened fire and used tear gas on protesting crowds as they evacuated a state official and her family.

Four residents were injured in the clashes that flared in Monrovia’s West Point slum which has been sealed off as part of new security measures aimed at containing the deadly virus.

The death toll from the Ebola oubreak in West Africa has risen to 1,350, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, with 106 new deaths reported between August 17-18 in three countries.

The U.N. health agency said that 221 new suspected, probable and confirmed cases of the deadly fever were reported across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone over the two-day period.

The crackdown in Liberia comes as authorities around the world scramble to stem the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola, which has killed at least 1,350 people across west Africa this year.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf quarantined West Point and Dolo Town, to the east of the capital, and imposed a night-time curfew as part of new drastic measures to fight the disease.

Residents of West Point, where club-wielding youths stormed an Ebola medical facility on Saturday, reacted with fury to the crackdown, hurling stones and shouting at the security forces.

“It is inhumane,” resident Patrick Wesseh told AFP. “They can’t suddenly lock us up without any warning, how are our children going to eat?”

Deaths from the epidemic that has swept through west Africa since March now stand at 1,350 after a surge of 106 victims in just two days, according to the World Health Organization.

Fears that the virus could spread to other continents have seen flights to the region cancelled, and authorities around the world adopting measures to screen travellers arriving from affected nations.