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Last Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Lebanese shops looted in S Leone
Street scene in Freetown
Many shops in the capital are owned by Lebanese businessmen
Youths in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, have ransacked more than a dozen shops owned by Lebanese traders.

The young men took to the streets after reports that a Sierra Leonean woman had died after being raped by a man of Lebanese origin in the town of Kenema.

Police dispersed the rioters, who stole televisions, radios, mobile phones and electricity generators from the shops.

Sierra Leone has a large Lebanese business community; many settled there after independence from the UK in 1961.

It is a great shock, what has been done to Lebanese shops
Samir Hassaniyeh
Lebanese community leader

Kenema is a diamond-trading town about 300km (185 miles) from Freetown.

Samir Hassaniyeh, the leader of the Lebanese community in Sierra Leone, said some traders had received threats and delayed opening their shops on Thursday, but later opened them thinking the danger had passed, Reuters news agency reports.

But when all the shops had opened the youths began their attacks.

"You cannot kill our people ... We are going to kill the Lebanese," the agency quoted one of the looters as shouting.

"It is a great shock, what has been done to Lebanese shops," Mr Hassaniyeh, told AFP news agency.

The West African country emerged from a decade of civil war in 2002.



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