Rebels free hostages but Britons still held
Monday 09 August 1999
The six released men are all Sierra Leonean civilian drivers. With United Nations military observers, including the Britons, as well as Nigerian peace-keepers and three journalists, they had gone into the rebel-held area to collect freed child prisoners.
Nance Webber, a spokeswoman for the special British and UN negotiating team handling the hostage crisis, said: "All is being done to secure the release of the hostages. We are hopeful but we are not giving it a time-frame.'' The rebel faction holding the hostages in Magbla, some 30 miles from Freetown, is believed to be from the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), loyal to former army junta leader, Johnny Paul Koroma, who ruled the country in 1997.
The kidnappers are demanding food, medicines and recognition under a peace accord signed last month. Crucially, they have asked to see Koroma, who they claim is a prisoner of the main rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Between them, the RUF and AFRC control two-thirds of the diamond-rich country, with the government, supported by Nigerian troops, holding only the area around Freetown.
There had been some hope that, after a failed mediation effort by an RUF rebel leader on Friday, the captors would respond to a message from Koroma, broadcast yesterday on the BBC World Service. Koroma, who said in the interview that he was a free man, is believed to be in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.
But a source who is in contact with rebels all over the country, said: "[Koroma] could have been speaking with a gun to his head. If he is free, he should be brought to the rebels. Then they will release the captives immediately.'' A UN source said that one option could be to bring Koroma to a "neutral place'' where he could speak to the captors by radio.
Even though their names have not formally been released, the five British officers are believed to be Lt-Col I R Howard-Williams, Major J McEwan, Major M Rawlings, Major G Bradley and Major T Lyall.
Aid agencies pull out of rural areas, page 11
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry
Thailand beach murders: Hannah Witheridge 'was raped by two men before being killed'
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...
£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...
Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...