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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
S Leone takes control of Freetown
Guards outside war crimes court in Freetown, Sierra Leone
The UN has faith in Sierra Leone's security forces
UN peacekeepers has handed control of security in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, to local forces two years after the end of a brutal civil war.

This is the latest step in the continuing withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from a five-year mission to restore calm to Sierra Leone.

At its peak, the UN mission there was the world's largest, with 17,000 troops. Some 8,000 remain.

About 50,000 people were killed, and many more maimed and raped in the war.

'Hanging around'

Police operations commander Chris Charley says his force is ready to take on the security of the country's capital.

"We as an organisation have benefited from training... officers have been sent abroad, local training has been enhanced," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

According to the BBC's Lansana Fofana in Freetown, residents in the capital do not seem worried about the transition.

"I do trust them, they have proved to us they're capable of handling security," one person told him.

The UN force is also confident about their abilities.

"We have tested them and seen what they are able to do and we know how to help them improve on their weaknesses," UN Civilian Police Commissioner Hudson Benzu told the AFP news agency.

He added that the UN force, Unamsil, would still "be hanging around to continue to help them, to continue to train them and to reassure the public that they are ready."

The UN troops have already pulled out of parts of the north, south and east of Sierra Leone this year.

Last year, Freetown got its first ever traffic wardens.


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