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U.N.-Led Disarmament Starts in Liberia

Government troops launched U.N.-sponsored disarmament in Liberia on Sunday, one of the most crucial steps toward ending 1 1/2 decades of conflict. Boys as young as 12 handed over their automatic weapons. More than 1,000 soldiers of ousted President Charles Taylor were laying down their weapons, starting what is to be the disarming of 40,000 government and rebel fighters nationwide. “This is Liberia’s last chance. Liberia must put an end to war, or war will put an end to Liberia,” U.N. envoy Jacques Klein declared, as rag-tag men and boys in civilian clothes surrendered their automatic rifles to blue-helmeted Bangladeshi U.N. troops. The start of disarmament comes four months after Taylor fled into exile as rebels laid siege to his capital, Monrovia. Liberia’s two rebel groups and government signed a peace accord one week later, on Aug. 18. Full Story

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