Liberia + 1 more

Liberia: Sierra Leonean Kamajors fighting with LURD, government says

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MONROVIA, 14 February (IRIN) - Liberia's government said on Thursday that former Kamajor militiamen from Sierra Leone were fighting alongside the rebel Liberians United Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) in the western part of the country.
The Kamajor militias are traditional hunters who fought against Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels during Sierra Leone's armed conflict (1991-2002). Liberian Justice Minister Lavela Koboi Johnson told reporters that the government had reliable reports - confirmed by fleeing civilians - about the presence of ex-Kamajor fighters within the LURD. He described them as "hired killers".

Fighting between LURD and loyalist troops has intensified in recent weeks, spreading to the coastal town of Robertsport, 78 km southwest of the capital, Monrovia. Civilians fleeing Robertsport, which is the capital of Grand Cape Mount County, have been arriving by canoe on the New Kru Town beach in Monrovia. They confirmed that LURD had captured Robertsport on Monday and abducted more than 100 residents, while many others were stranded in the town.

A group of 15 elders from nearby Bomi County reported to the government that heavily armed LURD rebels had abducted 25 civilians, mainly women and children, in the towns of Kley, Dewoin and Cheesemanburg, where LURD and government troops have been fighting since early February.

The executive director of the Liberian Refugees, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), Sam Brown, told IRIN on Thursday that the influx of internally displaced people (IDPs) as a result of the renewed fighting was increasing daily. The LRRRC had registered 25,000 IDPs by Thursday. Brown called on international humanitarian organizations to help Liberia to address "the alarming humanitarian crisis", saying the government could not handle the influx on its own.

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