Sierra Leone

UN mission disarms rebels in Sierra Leone

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The United Nations mission in Sierra Leone today disarmed 60 rebel fighters who had been involved in clashes with other factions for the past ten days in the northern part of the country, a UN spokesman said today in New York.
A team of 21 UN military observers spent the past several days negotiating an end to the fighting and two platoons of the Kenyan battalions were in the region monitoring the situation, spokesman Fred Eckhard said. About 350 people came out of the bush last night, including the 60 rebel fighters, 180 of their family members and 110 local people who had been held captive by the rebels.

A convoy of 60 troops from the Quick Reaction Company left Freetown today to bring back the disarmed combatants and their families. The abductees were being cared for in Kabala, Mr. Eckhard noted.

In other news from Sierra Leone, the spokesman said that a young armed rebel had come to the UN mission headquarters in Freetown yesterday, asking to join the disarmament programme. The fighter told UN staff that he had escaped from his commander who was not permitting his soldiers to disarm in Northern Sierra Leone.

"He looked terrorized and said that, if he had been caught while he escaped, his commander would have had him executed. He was taken to the nearest disarmament centre," Mr. Eckhard said.