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Wednesday, June 3, 1998 Published at 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK


World: Africa

Rebels rampage in Sierra Leone

Some victims had to walk for days to reach hospital

More than 240,000 refugees have fled attacks by rebels in the east and north of Sierra Leone over the past few weeks.


BBC Freetown correspondent: "Rebels let loose on civilians"
The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, says it is racing against time to save civilians fleeing to camps in Guinea and Liberia.

A senior UNHCR official, Soren Jessen-Petersen, said the refugees had suffered what he called barbaric and unequalled atrocities at the hands of the rebels loyal to the former military regime.

Some of the victims said armed groups had carried out executions, mutilations, rapes and kidnappings. Medecins sans Frontiers said thousands of civilians have been attacked over the last six weeks. It said some of the atrocities included burning children alive.

The former military regime in Sierra Leone was ousted four months ago, but forces loyal to it are still fighting troops of the West African intervention force.

The BBC Correspondent in Freetown, Lansana Fosana, says very little can be done by the international community to put pressure on the rebels because they have no centralised control.



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