RealNews

Rebel Forces Enter Liberian Capital; Thousands of Civilians, Soliders Flee Fighting

Rebels battling to oust President Charles Taylor pushed into the capital Saturday, as thousands of civilians and government soldiers fled the assault. Using heavy machine gun and mortar fire, rebels crossed the bridge marking the boundary of Monrovia, said Liberia’s military chief Gen. Benjamin Yeaten – the third time in the recent fighting that rebels made it into the city. At the end of June, rebels retreated after government retaliation and international pressure. Insurgents appeared to be heading toward Monrovia’s port, said residents of the Duala neighborhood, a largely commercial area where rebel troops have been seen. People inside the city center could hear explosions. Despite the onslaught, rebels attending peace talks in nearby Ghana denied that their movement, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, or LURD, had plans to seize the capital. Peace negotiators are working to reach a deal on a transition government and elections after a deadline for an agreement was extended by five days to Tuesday. Earlier Saturday, thousands of panicked Liberians carrying clothes, mattresses and furniture ran toward central Monrovia as LURD rebels closed in from the northwestern outskirts. Full Story

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