The Liberian government is yet to officially comment on reports out of Istanbul, Turkey that an unknown gunman shot and seriously injured four Liberians at an Istanbul coffee shop.
At least one of those shot, Bemore N. Toe, told FrontPageAfrica via Facebook Monday: "We were shot yesterday by gunmen in Istanbul, Turkey. We are kindly asking the government of Liberia to intervene on our behalf. Up to present we have not seen anybody from the Liberian government side."
Toe explained that it all started around 10-11pm Thursday April 3 2014. "I was on my way home when I met a Liberian girl name Patience. She asks me to walk her to another Liberian girl, Deddeh because she and Deddeh were living in the same house and they wanted to go home together.
Deddeh came to wait for us, when we met Deddeh she said let's go in this coffee shop and sit small, Florence is also sitting there. We went and sat there and met Florence sitting in the shop. Florence said, 'let me finish my tea than we all will go home together'. Toe explained further that he and Florence lives in the same direction while Deddeh lives in the opposite direction.
"We were just going to split after drinking the coffee. All of a sudden this guy walked in. He and the coffee shop owner started talking very harshly, but they were talking in Turkish language. So we could not understand what they were saying, but the shop owner says no problem you guys can sit. Later this guy asked Florence and said are you American, but Florence did not talk.
"We were shot yesterday by gunmen in Istanbul, Turkey. We are kindly asking the government of Liberia to intervene on our behalf. Up to present we have not seen anybody from the Liberian government side."
Later he left, after 7-10 minutes he came back and sat down about one to two minutes. He did not talk. When we were above to leave Deddeh said this shop owner always treating us well, 'let's take a photo with him', than the guy stood up and said you American, no photo, then he took the gun from his side and started shooting us."
FrontPageAfrica has been able to identify the four victims as Bemore N. Toe, Patients Roberts, Blessing Vinton and Deddeh Simmonds. The Liberians are said to be in critical condition, but are pleading with the government for assistance and intervention to ensure that they receive proper medical care. Blessing Vinton, in particular, is said to be critical.
Relations between Turkey and Liberia have been improving in recent years. Although Liberia does not have an embassy in Turkey, the Turkish government has a Charge d'Affaires in Monrovia. Liberia is reported to have an Honorary Consulate in Istanbul, which was opened in 1996.
A Turkish police contingent is serving in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) conducted some projects in Liberia in 2006 and 2008. Turkey has provided humanitarian aid to Liberia through the World Health Organization in 2007.
Bilateral trade volume has been increasing over the past few years. Turkey exports mainly ships, iron and steel products, cereals and cereal products, mechanical and electrical machinery spare parts to Liberia. Turkish imports include mainly wood, lumber, rubber, and hulk. Foreign trade volume between Turkey and Liberia reached the level of 128 million USD in 2012.
In recent years, Turkey has offered a number of university scholarships for a bachelor's degree to the Government of Liberia and a school founded by Turkish citizens offers primary and secondary education in Monrovia. According to the U.S. State Department, U.S.-Turkey partnership is based on mutual interests and mutual respect and is focused on areas such as regional security and stability, economic cooperation, and human rights progress.
Turkey has allowed the United States to utilize its Incirlik Air Base for the transport of non-lethal logistical support for operations in Afghanistan. The United States also stands in solidarity with Turkey in the fight against terrorism.
Counterterrorism cooperation is a key element of our strategic partnership, in concert with U.S. support for a political approach to security issues based on inclusiveness." It is unclear what prompted the shooter to target or misidentify the Liberians as Americans.