Shelling hits crowded suburbs in battle for Liberian capital
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Thursday 26 June 2003
Shells exploded in the suburbs of the Liberian capital yesterday, driving hundreds of people from their homes as the President's forces fought rebels advancing on Monrovia's city centre.
The fighting shattered a week-old truce and raised the prospect of a brutal end to Liberia's three-year insurgency - an all-out battle for the city of one million people, packed with hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled violence in the countryside.
The fighting on Tuesday night and yesterday marked the war's fiercest combat yet in the city. Charles Taylor, the President, vowed to crush the rebels. "This blatant act of terror will be fought all the way," he said on his private radio station, denying reports that he had fled the capital. The clashes were concentrated at the city's port, on the west side. Daniel Chea, the Defence Minister, said the front was three miles from the heart of Monrovia.
The Red Cross put out radio appeals for blood for the injured at Monrovia's John F Kennedy hospital, but shells falling on the city made it almost impossible for donors to venture out. The hospital had received nearly 200 wounded by midday. The attacks trapped families in one western district, leaving them to flee through the swamps to reach calmer neighbourhoods.
Mr Taylor's forces have lost at least 60 per cent of the country to two rebel groups, including the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, which are determined to drive him out. The President faces war crimes charges at a UN-backed court for supporting rebels in Sierra Leone.
A ceasefire reached on 17 June broke down on Friday when Mr Taylor announced he would not yield power as he had pledged. The truce had been part of a larger accord, hammered out in Ghana under pressure from west African leaders, America, the European Union and the United Nations. The pact called for talks leading to a transition government, without Mr Taylor.
The rebel movement suspended participation in the talks on Monday over what it said was the international mediators' failure to hold Mr Taylor to his pledge. The rebels insisted they were fighting only to "stabilise the situation" so that talks could continue. (AP)
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study
Want to ward off (or welcome) trick-or-treaters? Here's how
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
- 5 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Position: Early Years TeacherRequired: J...
£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
£95 - £105 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: KS1 ...