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French troops evacuate hundreds of foreigners from war-torn Liberian capital

French troops evacuated hundreds of foreigners from the war-wracked Liberian capital Monrovia, as continuing battles between rebels and government forces sparked a lightning truce mission by west African mediators. The French soldiers landed on a beach near the European Union offices in Monrovia’s plush Mamba Point area, where some 120 Europeans and UN officials were awaiting evacuation, and began to secure the area. A first batch of about 30 foreigners was flown on a Cougar helicopter shortly before 8:00 am (0800 GMT) to the Orage, a French military vessel anchored in the Atlantic just off Monrovia’s coast. The Orage had been sent from Abidjan, the commercial capital of neighbouring Ivory Coast, where French troops are deployed permanently and where they are currently helping police a ceasefire between government forces and rebels. The soldiers then evacuated US nationals from the American embassy next door. By midday some 250 expatriates were already on the ship after the rescue operation, nicknamed “Providence”, had run several airlifts out of the besieged capital. Full Story

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