Rebels overrun towns

Freetown (AP) - Rebels have recaptured three towns from Sierra Leone government troops, the military said yesterday, while one newspaper put the death toll from fighting as high as 200.

The Revolutionary United Front seized the towns after several days of fighting and were using civilians as human shields to keep government troops away, said Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Carew, a commander in the region. The towns are Serabu, Kpetema, and Walihun, outside the city of Bo, 135 miles south-east of Freetown.

The fighting cast doubts on reports last week that the RUF was prepared to begin peace talks with the government.