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Sierra Leone police open fire during anti-palm oil protest

Author: Tommy Trenchard, Reuters, Published on: 10 December 2013

Police in Sierra Leone opened fire on Tuesday on an armed protest against the expansion of palm oil plantations...by...Socfin Group, a police chief said. The Luxembourg-registered company, part of the business empire of...Vincent Bollore, has been embroiled since 2011 in a bitter feud between agricultural groups and local landowners in the Malen chiefdom. Police Inspector General Francis Munu said a crowd armed with shotguns and machetes had tried to burn down a police station...prompting a police response...Munu said the bullets were fired as warning shots. But the head of an association of landowners...said dozens had been injured and that one man had been shot in the neck. "They opened fire on us just for fighting for our rights to the land," said Sima Mattia. Residents say the $5 per acre ($12.50 per hectare) they receive for their land per year is not sufficient...and argue they...were coerced into signing [the lease agreement]...Socfin's director, Gerben Haringsma, said...the company had consulted every landowner and had the full support of the community. Socfin says it has provided extensive infrastructure projects and social services, as well as jobs. [also refers to China Hainan Rubber Industry, Addax Bioenergy (part of Addax & Oryx Group)]

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Related companies: Addax & Oryx Group Addax Bioenergy (part of Addax & Oryx Group) Socfin