Liberia + 1 more

French troops accused of aiding cross-border raid in Liberia

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Zwedru, Liberia (PANA) - An administrator in south-eastern Liberia claimed that French troops stationed in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire aided the Ivorian army in cross-border raids into Liberia last weekend.
Ruth Milton, superintendent of Grand Gedeh County bordering Cote d'Ivoire, said the raids on the village of Bartigen, a mining area along the border and a logging concession, left two Liberian soldiers killed and several civilians wounded.

She said the government was in possession of the shells from the weapons the Ivorian and French troops used when they crossed into the Liberian territory to carry out the attacks.

Milton made the claim in remarks Monday when UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Marc de Bernis, met with her in Grand Gedeh's provincial capital of Zwedru, some 300 miles south-east of Monrovia.

De Bernis, who is also UNDP country representative, was in the region on an assessment mission of two counties currently hosting thousands of Ivorian refugees, Liberian returnees and hundreds of other West African nationals who fled the fighting in Cote d'Ivoire.

The Ivorian government has alleged that Liberians were fighting alongside the rebels in the west of that country which borders the entire east of Liberia.

The Liberian government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Ivorian civil crisis, saying those Liberians fighting alongside the rebels and Ivorian government troops were serving as "mercenaries" that risk prosecution when caught.

"We have nothing to do with the war. Why should they come into my territory and kill innocent Liberians?" superintendent Milton quarried.

She said the areas that came under attack were regular routes used by refugees and others fleeing the fighting in Cote d'Ivoire, something that made the civilian casualty in the attack "very high."

She did not state the casualty rate among civilians nor where wounded persons were receiving treatment, but said the bodies of those soldiers killed were deposited at the county's morgue.

Milton said she was "sounding an alarm" to the international community to take action to prevent recurrence of such attacks, even while the Liberian government will deploy security along the border with Cote d'Ivoire.

Pan African News Agency
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