Rebels in Sierra Leone free five soldiers

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Five of the 11 British soldiers being held hostage by a renegade militia group in Sierra Leone were released last night.

Five of the 11 British soldiers being held hostage by a renegade militia group in Sierra Leone were released last night.

The Royal Irish Regiment soldiers were handed over to British representatives and taken to their camp outside the capital, Freetown. They were reported to be in good health.

Negotiations will continue today to free the remaining six soldiers and their guide, who were captured by the West Side Boys militia last Friday. An army spokesman in Freetown, Lieutenant-Commander Tony Cramp, said the group wasreleased at 9.30pm British time.

Lt-Cmdr Cramp said: "We are obviously delighted with the fact that we now have five of the soldiers that had been detained, back in UK hands. They have been released following further talks, and obviously our thoughts and concerns remain with those that are still being held and we are hopeful that they will be released shortly as well."

He would not give details of the terms of the release.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the soldiers were released with the help of the United Nations, particularly UN representatives from Jordan.

The release came after reports that the notoriously ill-disciplined West Side Boys had issued new demands, including the setting up of an interim regime in Sierra Leone to include their representation.

Brigadier-General Mohamed Garba, the deputy commander of UN forces in the West African country, had claimed earlier that the British soldiers had laid themselves open to kidnap by failing to tell peace-keepers of their movements. The Nigerian officer said they then made matters worse by straying into militia-held jungle.

Comments