Looting orgy grips Monrovia

Monrovia - Gangs of Liberian militiamen blasted their way through gates with rocket-propelled grenades and carried off their spoils in United Nations vehicles as fighting here turned into a frenzy of looting yesterday.

The United States diverted a warship from the Adriatic to help evacuate foreigners. Residents confined to their homes since fighting erupted on Saturday said food and water were running short. Looters attacked the Lebanese school next to the US embassy in the Mamba Point district and used vehicles from the UN military observer mission to carry off their spoils.

They also invaded UN Development Programme offices. A witness said looters, who have emptied shops of goods, were attacking homes and seizing private cars.

General John Inienger, commander of the Ecomog African peace-keeping force, said his men were trying to take key districts of the capital to prevent carnage spreading. Units had intercepted guerrillas trying to infiltrate the capital from western Liberia to back colleagues locked in fighting. A number of guerrillas died in the clash. "We ... should try and secure the Mamba Point area as a priority," he said, referring to the district where the UNDP offices, other international agencies, most embassies and diplomatic residences are. US helicopters have been ferrying foreigners from the US embassy in the district to Freetown or Dakar. US officials said flights might have to be restricted to night-time because of fear of daytime attack from militia gunners with rocket-propelled grenades. Nearly 400 people have been evacuated since Tuesday and hundreds more are in the embassy.

In six years of civil war in Liberia the capital had been relatively safe until clashes erupted nearly a week ago after the coalition government tried to arrest the Krahn tribe militia warlord, Roosevelt Johnson, on murder charges.

The fighting is the most serious threat to a 1995 peace accord which was signed in Nigeria last August.

Nigeria and Ghana, which have the largest contingents of troops in the Ecomog force, which was sent to Liberia in 1990, held urgent consultations on Wednesday and pledged their commitment to the regional peace-keeping effort. "Whatever the cost, Liberia and Liberians must not be abandoned to their fate," a Ghanaian official said after a delegation from President Jerry Rawlings held talks with the Nigerian military ruler, General Sani Abacha, in Abuja.

General Inienger said Ecomog peace-keepers and other hostages, including scores of Lebanese, were still held by Mr Johnson's backers.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Recording Engineer

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A long established media compan...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Events Business) - Manchester - Urgent!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A teacher of Science is required by this 11...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea